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USTR to Request First-Ever Environment Consultations Under the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) in Effort to Combat Illegal Fishing

September 19, 2019

Washington, DC – The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced today that it intends to seek environment consultations with Korea under the Environment Chapter of the United States – Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).  Today’s announcement follows the release of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) biennial report to Congress identifying nations for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, pursuant to the Moratorium Protection Act (MPA).  In its report, NMFS has identified Korea for “failing 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).  Under the KORUS Environment Chapter, Korea is obligated to “adopt, maintain, and implement” measures to fulfill its obligations under CCAMLR.  The United States is entitled to request consultations under Article 20.9 with respect to “any matter” arising under the Chapter, such as NMFS’ identification of Korea for failing to apply sufficient sanctions to deter Korean vessels.


Article 20.9.1 of KORUS (Environment Consultations and Panel Procedure) provides that a Party may request consultations with another Party regarding any matter arising under the Environment Chapter (Chapter 20).  Article 20.2 of the KORUS Environment Chapter states “[a] Party shall adopt, maintain, and implement laws, regulations, and all other measures to fulfill its obligations under the multilateral environmental agreements listed in Annex 20-A.” CCAMLR is one of seven multilateral environmental agreements listed in the annex.  NMFS and USTR will continue to work closely together, and with Korea, to ensure changes to strengthen Korea’s domestic law to address its fishing vessels’ illegal fishing activity under CCAMLR.

Click here to read the KORUS Environment Chapter.

Click here to read NMFS Report.