바로가기 메뉴
본문 바로가기
주메뉴 바로가기
검색창 열기
KOR

Press Releases

Issue of Korean Fishing Boats Operating in Waters Near the Southern Kurils

Date
2001-06-26
hit
3806

1. Background 

In December 2000, the Governments of the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation agreed to allow 
26 South Korean vessels to catch 15,000 tons of fish, worth about US$ 23 million, in the waters close to the 
Southern Kurils in 2001. In 1999 and 2000, private South Korean fishing boats operated in this area on a 
civic-level contract, catching 13,000 tons in 1999 and 14,000 tons in 2000, or 60 percent of the total saury 
catch. Regarding this issue, the Government of Japan argued that the aforementioned agreement 
undermines Japan's sovereignty over the Northern Islands, and requested the withdrawal of South Korean 
fishing vessels' operation in these waters. The ROK government, in return, has expressed its position that 
the operation by the South Korean fishermen in Southern Kuril islands has nothing to do with the territorial 
disputes between Japan and Russia, and that it conforms to international laws and practices. On June 19, 
the Japanese government announced the decision that it will not authorize Korean vessels to enter Japan's 
exclusive economic zone (EEZ) unless the ROK promises not to engage in fishing activities in the disputed 
zone. On June 25, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Han Seung-soo summoned Japanese Ambassador 
Terusuke Terada to express deep regrets and demand that Japan withdraw its unilateral ban. 

2. Position of the ROK Government 

The ROK government believes that the agreement between the ROK and Russia is strictly a fisheries matter, 
completely separate from the territorial dispute in the Southern Kuril islands, both in legal and diplomatic 
terms. The ROK government, taking Japan's concerns into consideration, has been clearly expressing its 
position to Russia that the Korea-Russia fishing agreement has nothing to do with the territorial dispute 
between Russia and Japan. The ROK-Russia agreement of December 2000 was reached based on such 
conditions. The Japanese fishing boats have also been operating in this area, provided that "it does not 
affect the territorial issue". In case of disputed sea waters, it is international customs to operate after 
getting a permission by the country that practices substantial jurisdiction, just as in the Falkland sea waters 
case. Japan also acknowledged the actual jurisdiction of Russia, so that the Japanese fishing boats are 
operating in this area by paying fishing fees (Japan argues that this is a "marine resources protection 
cooperation fee") with an approval by Russia. Japan's demand to the third country to stop fishing in this area 
is inconsistent. Japan has no right to demand the withdrawal of Korean fishing vessels from operating in 
this area, arguing that it is a violation of Japan’s domestic laws, which in practice is not even being applied. 
In particular, it is unjust to ban Korean fishing vessels from operating in the sea waters near the Kuril 
islands, which has nothing to do with this issue, despite the fact that the issue of Korean fishing vessels' 
operation in Japan's EEZ is based on the Korea-Japan Fisheries Agreement and bilateral agreements. At 
the Korea-Japan Joint Commission on Fishing Industry in December 2000, the two sides agreed that the 
Korean fishing vessels will be allowed to catch 9,000 tons of saury in Japan's EEZ. 

3. Measures to be Taken 

The ROK government believes that the Korean fishing vessels' operation in the disputed sea waters is 
strictly a matter of fisheries, and conforms to international laws and practices. Therefore, the Korean fishing 
vessels will begin operating in this area from mid-July, when the period of saury fishing begins, if the 
Japanese government does not withdraw its ban and provide a realistic counter-measure. The ROK 
government will continue to demand Japan to withdraw its ban on Korean fishing vessels' operating in this 
area, based on the fundamental sprit of the Korea-Japan Fisheries Agreement. 


                                                               Spokesperson of MOFAT

* unofficial translation