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`Have you seen pollack?`

Posted February. 26, 2014 02:19,   


“Caught in the fishnet of a generous fishermen / Saw the sights of salubrious Wonsan / And mummified like a king of Egypt / When a lonely poor poet has a drink / As writing a poet late at night / It would be good to be his snack / It would be good to be his poem / Although my body may be torn and disappear/ My name will remain / Pollack, the name will remain in the world.” This might have not been imaginable when poet Yang Myeong-mun wrote this poem “Pollack,” but it seems like pollack remain only in name.

Pollock whose catch in Korea had reached 74,000 tons a year in the 1980s was the perfect relish for poor poets. However, with the rising temperature of seawater, the catch dramatically decreased to 6,000 tons in the 1990s. Since 2007, the annual catch has been only about 1-2 tons. Now the fresh pollack stew, which used to be so common, has gone extinct. Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs launch a project called “Have You Seen Pollack?”

This project is to hatch out fertilized pollack eggs and discharge them to the East Sea. Since pollack is a fish living in cold water, it is important to lower the water temperature to successfully produce fry. However, what is more critical and urgent is to get fertilized eggs. For this reason, the ministry decided to give the maximum cash reward of 500,000 won to people who bring alive pollack, while considering importing fertilized eggs from Russia or Japan.

The reward for pollack is a testimony to global warming in offshore Korea. The delicate change of climate has a significant impact on not just pollack but also plants and animals. Steve Williams, a professor at James Cook University, said based on the massive wildlife data that if average temperature increases just one Celsius degree, 63 out of 65 species lose one third of their habitats. In order to recognize the value of bio resources and achieve international consensus on the use of bio resources, the 12th Conference of the Parties Convention on Biological Diversity is scheduled to be held in Pyeongchang in September. I wish pollack comes back to the Korean sea and help Korea show its interest in and willingness for the conservation of biodiversity to the international community.

Editorial Writer Chung Seong-hee (shchung@donga.com)