Thursday, February 23, 2006

Declining East Sea fish stocks

I just found two recent articles in the Joongang Ilbo about declining fish stocks off the Gangwon (and in fact, the whole East Coast) coast.

goseong apparently has a pollack festival that starts today. If there are pollack at the event, they may be purchased from Japan.
Pollack stocks have dropped for years. The National Fisheries Research and Development Institute described a government ban on keeping fish less than 27 cm. When stocks dropped, the banned size was dropped to 10cm then raised slightly to 15cm. Decreasing the minimum catch size has got to be seen as a short term (or stupid) solution.
The fishermen accept no blame.
Some fishermen complain that Chinese fishing boats in North Korean waters have been monopolizing the catch before pollack can move further south, into this country's waters.

Here's another short-term (or stupid) solution.
Lim Hyeong-taek, a senior official at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said, "I think it is safe to say that there is no more pollack left to catch in our waters. We are searching for solutions, such as trying to arrange joint-fishing contracts with North Koreans in their waters."

I don't have any suggestions for how the fishermen can make a living, but the only way to save the Pollack, in my opinion, is to stop the fishing and/or increase the minimum size back to 27cm or even larger. If South Korea wants to work with North Korea, they can work together on keeping the (alleged) Chinese boats out.

I don't want to single Goseong fishermen out. They need to make a living now and may not be able to look at the longterm. Also, I am Canadian and the mess we have made of Newfoundland's once wonderful fish stocks would make me cry if I really studied the numbers. The same problems and the same blame game can be found there -probably with the same accuracy. The Grand Banks has fishermen from more than one country fighting to make a living and at least one country is not thinking about sustainability.

The second article describes a fish most well-known in Kyoungsangbukdo (and the Netherlands).
From December on, in open yards throughout the areaÂ’s coastal villages, you can see many wooden racks full of saury. Exposed to the sea winds the saury are repeatedly frozen and thawed, becoming transformed into one of the seasonÂ’s delights through a brilliant process of natural, moderate fermentation. Originally, herrings were used because they were available in the East Sea, a long time ago. However, a drastic decline in numbers forced their replacement with the much more common saury.

I was always taught not to let my food thaw and refreeze. Well, I am a novice cook. I have to say it really doesn't sound all that appetizing to me.

Oh, about the European connection:
Many may not know it, but Asia is not the only continent that enjoys uncooked fish, and neither is Japanese ``sashimi’" the only way to relish raw fish. For many Europeans, raw fish is all about herring. Some Scandinavians love eating full-fermented herring. For Dutchmen, cured haring (herring in Dutch), is a delight to be savored.
Skindleshanks, do you have any comments about these dishes?


skindleshanks said...

Great post, brian--now I'll have to scrap the post I've been working on on the same subject (albeit with less authority and sources), and turn to the culinary aspects of a dish that I rather like, but still have many questions about.

As for the pollack festival, it is held in my wife's hometown (Kojin/Geojin) and is interesting to check out, although 90% of all these festivals are just travelling merchants who move from festival to festival. There are a variety of interesting sights, there, though.Last year we got to tour a Coast Guard ship--that was fun!

I wrote up a post a couple days ago about the severe water shortage in Sokcho. Really that sort of thing belongs on your blog, not mine, so I'll look forward to what you can dig up.

skindleshanks said...

My mother, true to her Scandanavian heritage, loves pickled herring. When I was younger I couldn't stand the stuff, but there are a few Korean femented fish dishes that I really like, (Sikhye, for example)that make me wonder if I should try the European variety again.

kwandongbrian said...

Honestly, until I read you comment and asked my wife, I didn't even know about the water shortage.

Anyway, thanks for the kudos!

Yankabroad said...

Hey Brian:

I don't think it's fair to say that I don't like America and Korea.

I don't like the lawyers and people in the White House, and there are many things I don't like about Korea, but to say I don't like Korea and America is not fair and a bit of a blanket statement.

A post a lot of really important stuff on Korean natural history, and I acknowledge the great American institutions of arts and literature (including the actors, writers and thinkers), so give me a break.

Isaac Bashevis Singer said the "pessimism of the creative person is not a pessimism at all, but a rallying cry for the redemption of mankind," or something to that effect.

The Norwegian word for pickled herring is "lutefisk," by the way.

kwandongbrian said...


You're right. My description of you was a little judgemental. I have changed it. However, when you write things like:
"...I forgot what a gray, colorless, mono-cultural, mono-lingual, mono-thinking, mono-drinking, mono-saying, mono-acting, utterly predictable in many ways and totally lacking in class and sophistication of a place Korea really is.", well, that's not really a specific complaint, that opinion covers a lot of ground.