Japan and China agreed Thursday to boost measures to prevent coral poaching by Chinese vessels in Japanese territorial waters, the Fisheries Agency said.
Representatives of the two governments, meeting in Dalian, northeastern China, struck a deal to continue enforcing a stricter crackdown and impose severe punishments on offenders, the agency said.
The agreement comes as many ships suspected to have come from China have been observed poaching red coral, which is highly prized in China for jewelry, in waters around the Ogasawara and Izu islands south of Tokyo, stirring calls for tougher punitive measures.
Japan and China also agreed to set up a hot line to improve communications between relevant authorities in cracking down on poachers, while strengthening cooperation to discover how poached coral is sold, the agency said.
Under the agreement, the number of Chinese vessels operating in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, as well as Japanese fishing vessels in China’s EEZ for the 2014 season, will total 303, down 18 from a year earlier. The catch quota for each country’s vessels will be reduced by 373 tons to 9,441 tons.
In waters that have not been demarcated in the East China Sea, the countries agreed that the number of Chinese fishing vessels will be reduced by 100 from a year earlier to 17,989, while Japanese vessels will remain unchanged at around 800.
Japan has raised fines for poaching as well as unauthorized fishing within its waters amid the recent surge in Chinese coral poachers in the Pacific. The poaching incidents have also led to the arrest of Chinese boat captains.