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Marine Reserves in South Korea

Sometimes the most beautiful treasures are the hardest to protect.

Korean scientists and environmentalists have been working for many years to establish marine reserves in South Korea.

There are currently three main levels of protection for natural areas (land and sea) in South Korea:

1. Nature Ecosystem Conservation Areas (highest level of protection)

2. National Parks

3. Fishery Resource Protected Areas

At present, only two inland parks are classified as Nature Ecosystem Conservation Areas. None of Korea's marine environments are protected at this level.

Two Marine National Parks (Level 2 Protection) exist in Korea - the Hallyo Haesang National Park and the Tadohae Haesang National Park. The main purpose of these parks is recreation and tourism, rather than ecosystem conservation, and fishing is still allowed in both.

Recently, two special marine environments were identified the Ministry of Environment as potential Nature Ecosystem Conservation Areas. These sites were at Cheju Island (off the south coast) and Kanghwa Island (north-west of Seoul). Despite strong scientific evidence of their value, the proposals to protect these areas met with very strong objections from fishing interests in these areas - the proposals were rejected.

As yet, Korea does not have any fully protected marine areas. The latest recommendation is Dog'do Island, in the East Sea between Japan and Korea. This island has no permanent residents, so there may be little opposition to establishing it as Korea's first fully protected Nature Ecosystem Conservation Area.

Beautiful underwater marine life
off the south coast of South Korea.
Photo by Lee Son-Myong




The age-old practices of fishing and food collection are still permitted in Korea's few Marine National Parks.
Photo by Yun Song-Do.

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