• Kyodo

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Russian authorities conducted a search of four Japanese fishing vessels on the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula over whether they were involved in illegal fishing, Russian media reported Friday.

The Foreign Ministry said in Tokyo one of the boats, the Dairin Maru No. 5, left Kamchatka at around 3:30 p.m. bound for Japan.

Citing the Russian Federal Border Guard Service, the Interfax news agency reported the four vessels were escorted to Kamchatka after being inspected Thursday in Russia’s exclusive economic zone in the Bering Sea as they found 5.5 tons of fish inside one of the four boats that had not been reported.

Japanese authorities confirmed the four as the Tomi Maru No. 53 from Kushiro, Hokkaido, and the Gyokuryu Maru from Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, the Dairin Maru No. 5 from Wakkanai, Hokkaido, and the Yokei Maru No. 5 from Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture.

The boats were believed to be fishing for walleye pollock, which is widely consumed in Japan.

According to fishing company Sato Gyogyo, which owns the Gyokuryu Maru, the boat left Kushiro early in October with a crew of 15 Japanese and seven Indonesians.

The skipper has contacted the fishing company, saying the vessel was asked by Russian authorities to undergo a regular inspection of its cargo, the company said.

Border guard service officials reportedly said the four were first inspected inside Russia’s exclusive economic zone late last month.

When they were inspected again Thursday, the Russians found a 5.5-ton catch in one of them that had not been reported, according to the reports.

In mid-August, a Russian patrol boat fired on the 4.9-ton Kisshin Maru No. 31, a crab fishing boat, near Russian-administered Kaigara Island, killing crew member Mitsuhiro Morita, 35. The Russians detained the captain and two other crew members for allegedly intruding into and poaching in Russian waters.

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