Until now, only voice communication was possible in seas more than 100 kilometers away from land. However, the long-distance digital communication network enables the real-time location of fishing boats and emergency distress communication. Fishermen can get weather information.
The system will be installed on 100 fishing boats by March 2021 to test its performance. It will cover all South Korean waters from April, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said in a statement on December 16, adding it can preemptively respond to unexpected fishing boat accidents. Fishermen will receive up to 70 percent of the cost of installing wireless telecom equipment that costs about four million won ($3,660) per unit.
Using emergency distress communication, fishing boats can automatically transmit exact location information for quick rescue activities, the ministry said, citing a 2017 case in which North Korea captured a South Korean fishing boat for violating its territory. The boat was repatriated six days later and investigators found that it had made a false report on its location while fishing illegally in North Korean waters.
Because the Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a treaty, the two Koreas remain technically at war. The maritime border has always been a flashpoint and was the scene of bloody naval clashes. In November 2010, North Korea shelled Yeonpyong, a front-line island, killing four South Koreans and triggering concerns of a full-scale conflict.
The two Koreas recognize different boundaries dividing their territorial waters in the Yellow Sea. The North argues that the demarcation recognized by the South -- the Northern Limit Line (NLL) -- is invalid because it was unilaterally drawn by US-led UN forces after the 1950-53 Korean War.
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