Japanese whaling patrol ship allowed to leave Russian port

Kyodo

A Japanese whaling patrol ship seized by Russia in the Sea of Okhotsk more than a week ago left a port in Russia’s Far East on Tuesday, local border security officials said.

The 712-ton Shonan Maru No. 2 was given the green light to leave Magadan port after paying a fine of 30,000 rubles ($830) because of a legal offense, according to the Japanese Fisheries Agency.

Russian prosecutors said the vessel committed a minor violation because it failed to notify the authorities of a change in the planned route for its research in Russian territorial waters.

The ship left Japan on Aug. 8 to track whales in the Sea of Okhotsk at the request of the government-linked Fisheries Research Agency.

The skipper and crew had been questioned by Russian authorities since Aug. 15 on a voluntary basis and were not detained.

The ship, which used to accompany Japan’s whaling fleet on voyages to the Antarctic, has been conducting a visual check of whales in accordance with plans worked out by the International Whaling Commission.