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U.S. Early Removes Korea from List of Potential IUU List

Date. 2020. 2.28.
Hit. 721

Policy amendment and constant consultations

led the unprecedented lift of the preliminary designation as an IUU fishing country


The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF; Minister MOON, Seong-Hyeok) announced that Korea retrieved its status as a responsible fishing country by the U.S. measure to remove the country from a preliminary list of Ilegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. (NOAA) issued a Preliminary Positive Certification Determination to cancel Korea from the potential IUU fishing list on 21 Jan. 2020 (local time). While the notorious situation had been maintained for 125 days from 19 Sep. 2019, Korea now seizes an opportunity to disprove the concerns on illegal economic gains and entry of illegal catch to the U.S. market.

The situation goes back to Dec. 2017 when fishing operations of the two pelagic vessels sparked the complaint about violating rules in the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Those ships, engaged fishing even after a close notice, resulted in NOAA’s including the nation in 2019 Improving International Fisheries Management to Congress that was released to submit the Congress in Sep. 2019.


The NOAA report indicated that Korea had the insufficient regulatory deterrence to impose the penalty for IUU-induced profits under then act concerned namely Distant Water Fisheries Development Act (DWFDA).


The decision prompted both countries to hold a series of consultations last year to reach the consensus on an unprecedentedly-swift move of the U.S. to take Korea from the list, upon the amendment of the DWFDA including creation of penalty surcharge system. To respond with those efforts, the Korean government and the National Assembly jointly completed the amendment process of the Act in just 4 months following the bill’s proposal.

The issue of Preliminary Positive Certification Determination is a meaningful product of the sheer team work of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and MOF. The team elaborated on the Korea’s endeavor to combat IUU fishing at the environment consultation held in Oct. 2019 under the KORUS FTA requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). In addition, the further discussions of the MOF with NOAA and the Department of State drove a thorough review on the updated DWFDA for the effective control of IUU fishing leading to the exceptionally-early issue of the certification that usually requires 2 years.

The government plans to complete the amendment of enforcement ordinance of the DWFDA this year consisting of the criteria and procedure for the penalty surcharge imposition. Also, discussions with the U.S. are scheduled to create the KORUS consultation for fisheries cooperation suggested last year.


A government official stated that “Securing sustainability of fishery resources by combatting IUU fishing comes as a significant issue for the globe. This IUU-related predicament will be a powerful reminder for the Korean government to redouble our efforts with the industry and civil society to prevent the recurrence of the accident lest internal worry and external distrust be created.”