• Kyodo


Tokyo and Seoul have agreed to cut the number of South Korean longline fishing boats approved to operate within Japan’s economic waters by 20 percent over the next five years, the Fisheries Agency said Monday.

As part of a bilateral agreement on the terms of fishing in each other’s exclusive economic zone reached in Seoul on Friday, South Korea will also impose heavier fines on boats that fish illegally in Japanese waters, the agency said.

The decrease in South Korean boats should reduce friction between vessels from the two countries such as tangled lines that occur frequently in waters between Japan and South Korea.

Fishermen from the two countries have been unable to fish in the neighboring EEZ since last July due to a failure by the two governments to agree on mutual fishing terms.

The latest deal, which will be in effect from Jan. 20 through June 2016, leaves unchanged the number of boats — 860 — each country can approve for the other side. The catch quota was set at 68,204 tons each.

The governments also agreed to enter talks to access in turns the rich fishing grounds around Takeshima, which Japan claims and which South Korea controls and calls Dokdo, where South Korean fishermen currently have a de facto monopoly, according to the agency.