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Gov’t to strengthen inspection of products from Fukushima

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Moon Seong-hyeok speaks during a government audit held at the National Assembly in Seoul, Thursday. Yonhap

October 8, 2021

By Kim Hyun-bin

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Moon Seong-hyeok vowed to strengthen monitoring of water and marine products for possible radioactivity from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

“We will thoroughly establish a safety net to better secure the safety of marine products and prevent accidents,” Minister Moon during the National Assembly’s annual inspection of the ministry, Thursday. “We will expand radioactivity monitoring at our shores to prevent contaminated water coming from the Fukushima plant and strengthen inspections of marine safety tests and check the origin of country products are imported from.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also plans to strengthen related measures. This month, the agency will inspect the contamination being released at unit 1 of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and its effects on the ocean.

One of the most anticipated issues was the possible revision of the country’s Marine Transportation Act, aimed to prevent the Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) from investigating issues regarding collective actions taken by domestic shipping companies.

However, this plan was postponed due to growing opposition from importers and exporters.

According to a survey the Korea Federation of SMEs conducted of 174 mid-size companies related to exports and imports, 85.1 percent were against the revision to the Marine Transportation Act, with 14.9 percent in support.

Since 2018, the KFTC has been investigating allegations that HMM and others colluded to boost freight rates for a Southeast Asian sea route.

After expanding its investigations of foreign firms in May, the regulator informed 23 local and foreign shippers that they may face fines totaling 800 billion won if they are found in violation of the Fair Trade Act.

Local shippers have protested fiercely against the regulator’s move. They claimed they had no choice but to take collective action to compete with global shipping powerhouses, and that their collective actions on freight costs and other contract conditions were permissible under the country’s Maritime Shipping Act.

Late last month, the Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans and Fisheries Committee passed a revised bill stating that collective actions by shippers will not be subject to the antitrust act.

“We are trying to clarify that the collective actions taken by marine shipping companies is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries,” Minister Moon said during a press conference, Tuesday. “We are not giving the shipping companies a break. We are pushing for stricter consequences.”

The ministry said it is focusing on reconstructing the domestic marine shipping industry by providing more support and creating helpful policies in import and export logistics.

Marine shipping sales are expected to reach 40 trillion won, and major freight rate indexes have recovered to levels prior to the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, the ministry said.

“We are planning to provide effective support measures including operating mega container ships, expanding national flag carriers and providing around 6 trillion won in liquidity to stabilize shippers’ management to better reconstruct the marine shipping industry,” Moon said. “Late last year, we deployed 74 temporary vessels for 17,000 TEU freight transportation support and worked hard to reduce import- and export-related difficulties for local firms.”

October 7, 2021 - Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , ,

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