Proceedings of the Third World Fisheries Congress: Feeding the World with Fish in the Next Millenium—The Balance between Production and Environment

New Approaches in Fishery Assessment and Management under the Exclusive Economic Zone Regime in Korea

Chang Ik Zhang, Richard J. Marasco


Korean waters include three semi-enclosed seas surrounded by Korea, Japan, and China: the Yellow Sea to the west, the East China Sea to the south, and the East Sea (Sea of Japan) to the east. Most fisheries resources in these seas are straddling stocks, which migrate among the waters of the three countries. Most fish stocks are currently depleted, some as a result of increased fishing intensity and overcapitalization of fishing fleets. Other probable reasons for depletion are land reclamations and coastal pollution, which destroy spawning and nursery grounds along the coasts of the three countries.

At the beginning of the 21st century, concern is growing over the effects of fishing on the ecosystem. Fisheries are managed within a setting that lacks full information on, for example, fish population dynamics, interactions among species, effects of environmental factors on fish populations, and effects of human activity on fish populations.

Recognition of uncertainty and its potential consequences led to the adoption of the precautionary approach in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development [UNCED; also known as the Earth Summit]), the 1995 United Nations Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and the 1995 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The precautionary approach is focused on reducing the likelihood of fisheries having adverse impacts on marine resources and host ecosystems. In particular, this approach requires

• identification of undesirable outcomes and ways to avoid them;
• prompt initiation of effective corrective measures;
• conservation of the productive capacity of the resource, especially when uncertainty is high;
• a manner of ensuring that harvesting and processing capacity is commensurate with estimated sustainable levels of the resource;
• formal authorization and periodic review of fishing activities;
• consideration of the needs of future generations;
• establishment of a legal and institutional management framework; and
• adherence to management requirements.

As the 21st century unfolds, the world faces unprecedented challenges and problems. The ongoing struggle over fisheries resources is merely a microcosm of a much larger struggle in which diverse interests compete for the use of water for fishing, industrial needs, waste disposal, recreation, and transport. The three basic and interrelated problems of fisheries are the threat of overexploiting the resource, overcapitalization or overexpansion of fishing fleets, and the negative consequences of fisheries on the survival of marine life and associated habitats. The diverse, dynamic, complex nature of fisheries management problems necessitates the development of a process that allows increase for human interactions, as well as the definition of biological indicators to be applied. Resource managers, researchers, user groups, and other interested parties must be involved in the process to minimize conflict and maximize commitment to sustainable management.

The purpose of this paper is to describe steps and to propose measures for Korea to achieve sustainable fisheries management. Steps being taken to implement precautionary management in Korea are explored. The status of marine living resources in Korean waters is described, methods for stock assessment and management strategies are proposed for several fisheries, and a strategy for dealing with the large differences in the quality and quantity of information available is presented.