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Korea Trout Conservation

Taking the first steps in a steep uphill battle

Last Updated 3.27 2022

South Korea’s post-war environmental policies, moreover the lack thereof have wreaked havoc on Korea’s plants and animals due in part to rebuilding an economy devastated by war, famine, and poverty nearly 70 years ago. Korea’s recreational fishing regulations have remained mostly unchanged since 1953. Public management & protection of Korea’s unique and fragile fisheries is near nonexistent due to meager budgets from the central Seoul government. Our aim is to cooperate with local leaders, anglers, guides, and flyshop owners to restock, research, and provide a better future for Korea’s trout as well as enhance the livelihoods of rural communities by adding value to local economies through sustainable fly-fishing tourism.

We are currently looking for volunteer biologists, researchers, and academics to donate time & assist with the ongoing conservation work in Gangwon province, South Korea to study Oncorhynchus masou. For more information on our conservation initiative in South Korea, please reach out to at 

[email protected]

Native Reproduction

Working with Complex Regulations

Tough Cookies in South Korea

South Korea’s Inland Fisheries Act prohibits the transfer and release of all aquatic plants and animals, including the beloved cherry trout and Korean lenok from one stream to another. What that means is that private angling clubs cannot pay a grower to produce trout fingerlings and transfer them to a stream with a population of critically low numbers. There is a very meager budget in South Korean coffers to restore, protect, and manage trout populations so we’ve decided to take the first step in a privately funded, publicly monitored project to recover streams where populations are at the highest risk of disappearing.

Furthermore, South Korea has designated nearly all cherry trout either stocked or streamborne to be an inferior invasive species due to its foreign DNA profile. In the 70’s & 80’s Korea developed the F2 Cherry trout hybrid, the result of pairing an ocean going Japanese Masu salmon with a native Korean cherry trout. There is more of an emphasis on eradication rather than preserving Korea’s existing sport fishing trout stocks.

Learn More about In-Stream Stocking

FFI Whitlock-Vibert Boxes – Instream Trout Rearing




Possible Solutions

Strategies for Initial Improvements

Project Initiated with Gangwon Province Officials, Winter 2021

Currently, it appears that is may be possible for our conservation project to begin work in late Autumn of 2022. The paperwork process has started and we currently in the process of meeting with local officials in Gangwon Province. We offer a big thank you to Jonathan Choe, guide, angler, and shop owner for contacting the MOIF to start the approval process.

We are hopeful that local officials will greenlight our project to safely harvest adults from their native habitat, combine milt and eggs, and transfer fertilized eggs directly back to their natural stream using the Whitlock-Vibert trout egg boxes. This is the first step towards raising public awareness and in the long term providing a source of income for rural villages through anglers renting rooms, buying meals, and encouraging villagers to farm sustainably and become stewards of the stream. Poaching and overfishing is a longstanding problem especially amount locals. The key to a better future lies within the hands of the Korean people. We are here only to help get the ball rolling. If you’d like to help us, please get in touch. We surely need all the help we can get at this point.