• Kyodo

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Twenty Japanese fishing boats sailed out Tuesday from a port in Hokkaido to waters off the Russian-held Kunashiri Island to fish for walleye pollack under a fishing arrangement with Russia.

The boats, which belong to a fishing association in the town of Rausu, are equipped with gill nets.

Under an agreement reached by Japan and Russia in November, Japanese boats are allowed to catch 955 tons of walleye pollack, 208 tons of octopus and 777 tons of atka mackerel this year. Fishing for octopus began last week.

The November accord is the sixth of its kind, allowing Japanese fishing boats to operate in waters around four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, including Kunashiri, in return for fees paid to Moscow. The islands are claimed by Japan.

This year, the fishermen will pay Russia 21.3 million yen and provide 21.1 million yen worth of equipment for a maritime research organization.

The islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu and Shikotan, and the Habomai group of islets were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

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