An estimated additional 2500 seafarers from other countries are expected to sail in Korean longliners as the Ministry of Justice approved a proposal by the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives (NFFC).
Under an agreement between the Federation of Korean Seafarers’ Unions (FKSU) and the NFFC, the decision was taken to increase the number of foreign seafarers, bringing the total to around 22,000 – reports Koreabizwire – although the final decision on this rests with the Ministry of Justice.
The NFFC has collaborated with the seafarers’ union to officially introduce a scheme to increase the number of foreign seafarers in the offshore gillnetting sector.
The system permitting the hiring of up to seven foreign seafarers per vessel in various sectors such as bottom trawling, nearshore trawling, nearshore river trawling, nearshore longline, live squid fishing, and nearshore longline, where the onboard count exceeds 12, will also undergo a one-year pilot phase subsequent to the justice ministry’s approval.
Korea’s Oceans and Fisheries Ministry reported earlier this year that foreign workers account for nearly 50% of crew members working in South Korea last year. A total of 60,148 crew members were working on local fishing boats as of end-2022, and 28,281 of them were foreigners, or 47% of the total, according to the data by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
According to the Ministry, this marks a 3.5% growth on-year.
‘South Korea has experienced a manpower shortage in this field. The government will redouble efforts to improve working conditions for crew members and to ease labour shortage problems,’ Oceans Minister Cho Seung-hwan commented.
In 2022 the government decided to raise the minimum wage of foreign crew members here to the level received by their Korean colleagues by 2026. It also began granting a one-year extension of stay permits for foreign fishing crewmen in a bid to address a labour shortage in the industry.