Kagodo myok grounds II, South Korea

Resource System
Coastal marine ecosystem
Resource Units
Myok (seeweed), coastal marine fish stocks
South Korea

This case is an update on a prior case study about the Kagodo myok (seaweed) grounds (Case No. 86) analyzing Sang-Bok Han’s 1972 Ph.D. dissertation on field work conducted in three South Korean fishing communities from 1968 to 1972. 

For purposes of this report, the SES study boundaries were expanded to include the entire South Korean coastal area and the fishery resources surrounding the peninsula extending 200 nautical miles to the east, south, and west. 

Update prepared by Ute Brady, reachable at zapodidae@cox.net

Case Summary:  As a result of various international agreements entered into by the South Korean government since the 1990s, the institutional framework within which fisheries management was embedded for the past fifty years has expanded to include not only the fishing village cooperative structure observed by Han (which underwent fundamental restructuring over the years), but also various other voluntary input (Self-Management System (SMS) and Fish Stock Rebuilding Plan (FSRP)) and one output control strategy (Total Allowable Catch (TAC)).  Although fishery household incomes have vastly improved, it is uncertain whether these management strategies, individually or combined, will lead to the recovery of the marine ecosystem and a more robust SES due to the following:

  1. Ineffective monitoring, sanctioning, and lack of legal enforcement mechanisms prevail in all currently implemented fisheries management systems.
  2. The seemingly haphazard implementation of the various input and output control measures, which all operate simultaneously without any interconnectivity, makes it difficult to assess the overall impact of the individual policies on each other and the SES as a whole.
  3. All management techniques appear to place an emphasis on the management of economically viable marine species with little apparent input from independent sources, such as marine conservation groups, marine biologists, etc., to evaluate the impact of fisheries on the overall marine ecosystem.
  4. According to FAO reports South Korea does not keep records of its fisheries’ bycatch making an accurate assessment of fishery impacts on the entire marine ecosystem even more difficult.
  5. The use of maximum sustainable yield harvesting numbers (TAC and FSRP) fosters the continued overexploitation of commercially viable species.
  6. Financial and administrative support provided only to select “model” villages in the SMS leads to an inequitable distribution of funding and unfair advantages to the model communities, resulting in resentment and lack of incentive to participate in villages not so chosen.
  7. While the responsiveness and adaptiveness that is derived from the strong bottom-up/top-down influence exerted in the SMS model communities has led to some successes, it is unclear whether the government intends to expand this model to all fishing communities and/or whether the government intends to continue this particular governance method long-term.