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Fisheries Demand Government Compensation for Contaminated Fish

Fisheries Demand Government Compensation for Contaminated Fish

Posted October. 08, 2005 07:57,   


Trout and carp hatcheries are demanding compensation for their contaminated fish from the government after the recent discovery of malachite green in domestically-farmed fish, a cancer-causing synthetic antiseptic.

The government’s response is that there is no basis for compensation. However, this is raising controversy as the government had encouraged the use of malachite green until recently.

Park Cheon-gon, head of the council for inland-water fisheries, visited the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF) on October 7 and requested compensation through government purchases of fish contaminated with malachite green and their disposal.

Park said, “The government has directed the use of malachite green through textbooks for fishermen until recently, but is belatedly putting the blame on fish farms.”

The council estimates it will cost five to six billion won to buy back contaminated trout and carp from 36 fish farms.

The MOMAF says that without a legal basis, compensation will be difficult. However, inspections for malachite green will be made case-by-case, and so even if a fish farm was found to have carcinogens in its fish, shipments will be allowed if the level is found to be safe.

There is a basis for compensating for marine product damage in the Countermeasures against Natural Disasters Act, but it does not apply to this case. The use of malachite green is illegal, and some are saying that the government cannot compensate illegal acts.

Lee Seon-joon, director of the Fisheries Policy Bureau at MOMAF, said, “There is no legal basis, but in order to placate the people, we are considering measures for partial compensation (purchase and disposal).”

Regarding this matter, the MOMAF is reviewing article nine of the act on price stabilization of agricultural and marine products, which states, “The ministers of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry and Agriculture and Forestry Ministry may make purchases of products which cannot be stored in order to stabilize prices if needed,” to see if it can be applied to this case.

Meanwhile, the MOMAF changed its original plan not to inspect for malachite green in marine fish farms to making a one-month inspection.

Lee Tae-sik, head of the sanitation team at the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, said, “We plan to inspect flounder, rockfish, sea bream, mullet and shrimp for malachite green in 160 sea-fish farms out of a total of 1,638 farms.”

Eun-Woo Lee libra@donga.com