Fragile habitats devastated by fisheries push

Choi Song Min  |  2016-02-03 16:23
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Following Kim Jong Uns calls for the nation to glean all it can from what the young leader dubbed an ocean of abundance, the subsequent and sustained pursuit by North Korea's fisheries legs to scour the surrounding seas has caused widespread damage to its marine resources.

Recently, the Cabinets Ministry of Land and Environment Protection published a report on the ocean ecosystem and preservation of marine habitats, a source from North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on January 27. According to the report, fish populations had been returning to healthier levels in the West Sea [Yellow Sea] but these destructive practices exercised by the fisheries offices are rapidly reversing that progress. 

Two additional sources in South Hamgyong Province corroborated this news. 

The fisheries units have been conducting excessive fishing without any consideration of scientific methods aimed at conservation and mitigating repercussions on the environment. "This all comes on the back of Kim Jong Uns orders to produce a wealth of supply for fisheries," he said. "Accordingly, military-affiliated fisheries arms have utilized destructive, indiscriminate methods like bottom trawling and either destroyed or diminished a number of prominent fish species habitats."

Moreover, Kim Jong Un has already toured military fisheries operations and awarded those who have performed well at the Korean Workers' Party [KWP] Central Committee building on two separate occasions, further encouraging proactive fishing work by others hoping to measure up and gain recognition. 

Our former General [Kim Jong Il] conducted endless ocean patrolling and crackdowns through surveillance agencies in the name of protecting marine resources, the source asserted, stating that the former leader even issued a mandate from the National Defense Commission banning bottom trawling, and for other spells, banned fishing boats from going out to sea. 

Where these measures did extend some degree of protection to marine ecosystems, the lack of safeguards further inland quickly saw the mountains go bare. Conversely, he noted, rather than seeking a more balanced approach, Kim Jong Un has slapped restrictions on land cultivation for reforestation efforts but encouraged reckless pillaging of the ocean. 

*Translated by Jiyeon Lee

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