A Japanese salmon and trout fishing boat from Hokkaido was seized by Russian authorities Friday for exceeding the fishing quota, the Hokkaido Prefectural Government said Saturday. Masato Ito, captain of the 29-ton boat Hokomaru, and 10 crew members are uninjured, it added. The Foreign Ministry asked the Russian Embassy in Tokyo to return the vessel and release the crew members at an early date.
According to a local fisheries cooperative in the town of Hiroo, in south Hokkaido, the drift-net fishing boat left the port of Nemuro, in eastern Hokkaido, on July 6 for Russia's exclusive economic zone. After completing the fishing, the boat was checked by Russian authorities at around 6:50 p.m. Friday and found to have exceeded the quota by 472 kg, the cooperative said.
The boat was originally scheduled to return to Nemuro on Saturday morning. Russian authorities may take the boat to Kunashiri — one of the Russian-controlled islands claimed by Japan — northeast of Nemuro, the Hokkaido government said. As Russia is set to ban drift-net fishing in its economic zone from January to conserve natural resources, Japanese salmon and trout fishing using that method is expected to be terminated in the maritime area later this month.