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World Oceans Day: Livelihoods of Yeonpyeong-do fishermen threatened by ocean waste
Updated: 2021-06-09 09:56:39 KST
The beautiful coastline of Incheon's islands littered with trash.
According to a study from Nature geoscience in 2018, the beach sediments along the coast of Incheon and Gyeonggi-do Province have the second highest microplastic concentration in the world.

"These mounds of trash all came from the ocean.
The smell of rotten trash reeks but fishermen say that this is just the tip of the iceberg."

"Back in the early 80s, there was no trash at all. But now,.. words can't express how serious the problem is. From everyday trash to garbage dumped out by Chinese ships and local fishermen, there's much more trash in the sea than you would think."

Park Tai-won, a fisherman for forty years on Yeonpyeong-do Island, says that just 20 years ago, fishing boats would catch up to 20 to 30 kilograms of fish a day.
Now fishermen count themselves lucky if they end up with a third of that.
Rarely a day goes by without ocean waste getting caught up in the boats' propellers and nets often come up with more trash than fish.

"I've had days when waste got caught up in my propellers five times. If we hoist up our nets all day, about 60 percent would be fish and the rest is garbage. Sometimes the 60 would be the trash."

The livelihoods of fishermen are at risk.
But sometimes,.. the victims are also the culprits.

""There are 41 fishing methods in South Korea and the length of fish nets used in just one of those methods, gillnetting, can wrap around the earth four times. But the nets aren't properly managed, so the government estimates that in reality, about three times that amount is used."

According to the activist, 60 to 80 percent of waste from ocean activities is from fishermen's gear, like nets, ropes, and styrofoam buoys.
When activists and fishermen try to alleviate the problem by bringing in the floating waste, they often find themselves drowning in the sea of trash.
They say, without stronger regulations against illegal nets, fishing boats, and dumping ocean waste, the problem will only grow by day.**
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News, Yeonpyeong-do Island
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