North Korea's coastline of about 2,495 kilometers, mixture of warm and cold ocean currents, and many rivers, lakes, and streams make its potential for fishery development better than for most other countries. Not until the early 1960s, however, did the domestic fishing industry begin to expand rapidly, receiving increased investment in vessels, equipment, and port facilities. Total marine products increased from 465,000 tons in 1960 to 1.14 million tons in 1970, registering an annual growth rate of 9.4 percent compared with the planned rate of 14.5 percent. The SixYear Plan target of 1.6 million tons was met in 1976, as was the target of 3.5 million tons for the Second Seven-Year Plan in 1984. The output target for the Third Seven-Year Plan was 11 million tons by 1993, including a catch of 3 million tons of fish. With an estimated total output of 1.5 million tons in 1990, down from 1.6 million tons in 1989, it is highly unlikely that the 1993 target for marine products will be met.
The major fishing grounds are in the coastal areas of the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, to the east and the Yellow Sea to the west. Deep-sea fishing began in earnest in the 1970s. The principal catch from the Sea of Japan is pollack, a favorite fish of most Koreans; sardine and squid catches also are significant. From the west coast, yellow covina and hairtail are the most common varieties of fish. Deep-sea catches include herring, mackerel, pike, and yellowtail. The main fishery ports are Sinp'o, Kimch'aek and the nearby deep-sea fishery bases of Yanghwa and Hongwn. Most large-scale storage and canning facilities also are located on the east coast. Besides the fishery stations, smaller fishery cooperatives are located along both coasts in traditional fishing centers. Aquaculture and freshwater fishing take place on regular cooperative farms.
In order to expand marine products, the Third Seven-Year Plan calls for modernizing the fishery industry. Specifically, the plan urges increasing the numbers of 14,000-ton class processing ships, 3,750-ton class stern-trawlers, and 1,000-ton and 480-ton class fishing vessels, as well as generally increasing the size of vessels. The government also called for widespread introduction of modern fishing implements and rationalizing the fishery labor system. Improvements also are slated for expanding and modernizing the cold-storage and processing facilities in order to facilitate speedy processing of catches. The slow progress in state investment, combined with the shortages of oil, are the main factors in the disappointing record of marine output in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
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