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Cheonan Fiasco Sinking Nearby Island`s Economy

Posted April. 07, 2010 05:26,   


The delay in the salvage of the sunken naval patrol ship Cheonan is preventing fishermen on Baengnyeong Island from going out to sea.

The island’s economy is reeling with the decline in tourism caused by the sinking.

One of the island’s most popular products is sand lance, a leading source of income for Baengnyeong residents. They can earn about 250,000 won (223 U.S. dollars) by selling a 300-liter barrel of salted sand lances. Daily catch volume can reach up to 30 barrels.

Waters off the coast of Baengnyeong’s Changcheon Harbor has become a fertile fishing ground for sand lanes from April. Fishermen are busying mending fishnets and wanted to begin casting them this week, but the delayed salvage operation has prevented them from doing so.

Baengnyeong village chief Choi Chi-ho said, “Around this time every year, we drop anchor in the fishing area, float buoys and cast our nets,” adding, “But the Navy asked us to delay fishing operations since the screws of the search and rescue ships could get caught in fishnets.”

Fishermen have not complained about this because of the pain of the families of the missing crewmen. One fisherman said with a sigh, “We want the waters near the island to return to normal before beginning fishing operations.”

The number of tourists has plummeted despite the onset of the peak spring season. Some 1,000 tourists visit the island every week around April, but the number dropped to some 100 after the sinking of the Cheonan.

Baengnyeong Culture Tour President Park Dong-shik said, “People have canceled their reservations, saying they cannot go sightseeing because of the families of the missing crewmen,” adding, “It’s safe to say there are no tourists at all.”

Raw fish restaurants are also in trouble. Heo Jeong-geun, an owner of a raw fish restaurant on the island, said, “We would’ve had 40 to 50 customers had the incident not happened. We’ve almost had to close our restaurant.”

“All 13 raw fish restaurants nearby are in the same situation and they’re closing (early) at 7 p.m.”