• Kyodo

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A Japanese fishing boat netted its first saury haul Monday in waters surrounding disputed Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

Japanese saury boats got started later than their South Korean counterparts because if complications involving Russian fishing inspectors.

According to Nemuro fishing officials, the Japanese boats did not come into contact with any of the South Korean vessels, and thus competition and conflict were avoided.

The officials said Monday’s catch of about 700 kg was brought in by a small saury boat and unloaded at Hanasaki port in Nemuro.

One of the boat’s crew members reportedly said the fish shoal was dense and that the waves were high in waters south of Shikotan Island, one of the four isles off Hokkaido that are held by Russia but claimed by Japan.

Full-scale operations will begin in the middle of this month when large vessels will start hauling in the fish, the officials said.

Under a Japan-Russia agreement reached last year, Japanese saury boats are allowed to operate in the waters provided a Russian inspector is aboard one of every 15 boats under 30 tons.

Japan has protested this development, however, saying Seoul should have sought authorization from Tokyo before proceeding.

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