Three Japanese fishing boats seized by Brazil over environmental breach

Kyodo, JIJI

Three Japanese tuna fishing boats operating off the coast of Brazil were seized between July and August for alleged violations of the environmental code, and one vessel is still in custody, according to the Japanese Embassy in Brasilia.

Brazilian authorities allege that the three boats — one each from Iwate, Miyagi and Kagoshima prefectures — failed to use nets to avoid harming seabirds in violation of domestic law, embassy officials said Tuesday.

The fishery cooperative that dispatched the three boats say the boats’ crews followed rules set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

The crews have lodged a complaint with the Brazilian government through the local fishing company that was operating jointly with the Japanese boats.

Two of the three vessels were freed after Japan and Brazil agreed that a deposit would be paid until the matter can be settled. Officials in the Japanese Fisheries Agency have come to Brazil to try to resolve the dispute.

The Kinei Maru No. 108 out of Iwate Prefecture is still under an order to remain in a southern port and a Japanese national in charge of fishing operations has been detained on board, the officials said. The vessel has a crew of about 20, including four or five Japanese, they said.