A non-governmental organization claims that squid fishing in North Korea has decreased in 2020

Research by the non-profit organization Global Fishing Watch found that the total number of days North Korean ships spent fishing squid in Russian waters decreased by 95%, from 146,800 to 6,600. Squid fishing in North Korean territorial waters also suffered a dramatic decline.

The ships are referred to as part of North Korea’s “dark fleet” because they do not publicly broadcast their location or appear in public surveillance systems, and they often violate global maritime regulations. Dozens of these ships, not well equipped for long-distance travel, were washed away by the waves on Japanese shores In the last years, And sometimes with the dead sailors on board.

Global Fishing Watch used satellite imagery and other marine surveillance technology to track the number of squid fishing vessels during the fishing season from May to November. Squid fishing is one of the easiest to track from afar because it is done at night with powerful lighting equipment.

Squid is popular throughout Northeast Asia, and increased demand in recent years has threatened the sustainability of the already dwindling squid stocks in the region, according to Global Fishing Watch. In North Korea, squid is fermented, pickled, grilled, fried, or dried and served as a snack.

Jeon Park, a leading data scientist at Global Fishing Watch, said the unprecedented decline appears to be due to the strict entry and exit restrictions put in place by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to keep Covid-19 out of the country.

Experts believe that Kim closed North Korea’s borders last year and cut its last meager ties with the outside world because he knows Pyongyang’s dilapidated healthcare infrastructure will be overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreak.

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North Korea says it has not contracted a single case of Covid-19, an allegation most experts dismiss as propaganda. But the country appears to have escaped a major wave of infections, thanks in part to strict measures to combat the epidemic, control the movement of people and close borders.

However, these preventive measures have proven costly. Trade between Beijing and Pyongyang – an The economic lifeline Most experts believe that North Korea needs to stop its people from starving – down by more than 80% in 2020, according to data from the Chinese Customs Agency. Published Monday.
Nearly 10.1 million people are food insecure in North Korea and are in “urgent need of food aid,” according to April 2020 report From the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Pyongyang often struggles to feed its people adequately due to economic mismanagement, international sanctions, the country’s scarcity of arable land, and modern agricultural equipment. But things are definitely getting worse now due to tighter controls at borders and heavy rains this summer Flooded farmland and destroyed crops.
While there appears to be enough food to go around, the supply is under greater pressure than at any time since the famine of the 1990s. According to Chad O’Carroll, CEO of Korea Risk Group, which produces the North Korean publications NK Pro and NK News.

“We can safely say that there is a nationwide shortage of many major food types,” he said.

Hunting away from home

North Korean fishermen often work illegally outside the country’s domestic waters due to overcrowding.

It is alleged that Pyongyang sold the territorial fishing rights to other countries, According to UN investigatorsDespite the fact that fishing in its waters or trafficking in North Korean fish violates international law.
Trading , That is estimated to be worth about $ 300 million a yearWas punished In 2017 By the UN Security Council as part of its efforts to punish the Kim regime for repeated ballistic missile tests that year.
A groundbreaking study published by Global Fishing Watch In 2020 It found that squid trawlers with ties to China were operating in North Korean waters and caused the displacement of North Korea’s fishing fleet, forcing many in the rickety boats to sail away from home to more rugged and more dangerous seas.

Global Fishing Watch’s Park said squid fishing in Russian and North Korean territorial waters decreased significantly in 2020. During the peak season from September to November, Global Fishing Watch found 50% fewer vessels of Chinese origin operating in North Korean waters than I did. During the same time in previous years.

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However, North Korean squid fishing boats did not benefit. Park said there has been no corresponding increase in North Korean squid fishing in the country’s territorial waters, so it is possible that a large amount of North Korean squid supplies “completely disappeared in 2020.”

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