Washington, DC – The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) welcomes passage by Korea’s National Assembly of amendments to Korea’s Distant Water Fisheries Development Act. This action follows the first ever environment consultations under the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) wherein the United States raised concerns regarding Korea’s response to the illegal fishing activities of its vessels. USTR applauds the significant efforts Korea has made to strengthen its regime to deter and penalize illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. USTR, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and other relevant U.S. government agencies, will continue to work closely with the government of Korea and will follow developments in the implementation of the recently amended Act, including the issuance of an Enforcement Ordinance and Implementation Rules.
“We commend Korea for acting expeditiously to strengthen its regime to combat illegal fishing, which disadvantages law-abiding fishermen everywhere,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. “This action demonstrates that the Trump Administration’s strong commitment to using tools such as environmental monitoring and enforcement provisions under our trade agreements can produce real results that help protect and conserve our ocean resources.”
The U.S. request for environment consultations under KORUS marks the fourth time in history that the U.S. has invoked the environmental monitoring and enforcement provisions of a trade agreement, and all four instances have occurred during the Trump Administration.
The United States requested environment consultations with Korea under the KORUS Environment Chapter on September 19, 2019 to discuss concerns regarding Korea’s ability to apply sufficient sanctions to deter its vessels from engaging in fishing activities that violate conservation and management measures adopted by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). On October 17, 2019, the United States and Korea held productive environment consultations in Seoul with representatives from Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Korea Coast Guard. The recently adopted amendments to Korea’s Distant Water Fisheries Development Act now enable the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries to administer administrative sanctions for violations of conservation and management measures of regional fisheries management organizations, including CCAMLR. USTR and NMFS will continue to work closely with Korea on efforts to combat illegal fishing, including ensuring effective implementation and enforcement of the recent amendments to the Act.
Click here to read the KORUS Environment Chapter.