Japan-Russia fisheries talks start amid economic sanctions

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Well-wishers wave to fishing vessels as they depart for the first salmon and trout fishing of the season at Habomai fishing port in Nemuro, Hokkaido, on April 10, 2021.

Japan and Russia have begun their annual fisheries negotiations on salmon and trout catches, following a delay to the schedule due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The negotiations, which began Monday and are being held online, are taking place while Japan is imposing economic sanctions on Russia over its hostilities in Ukraine. The length of the negotiation period is undecided.

The Japanese side includes officials from the Fisheries Agency, the Foreign Ministry and the Hokkaido prefectural government, as well as representatives of the fishing industry. The Russian side includes officials from its Federal Fishery Agency and Foreign Ministry.

During the talks, the two sides will negotiate catch limits for Japanese fishing vessels operating in waters within 200 nautical miles of Japan and the related fees to be paid to Russia.

Many of the salmon and trout off the coast of Hokkaido originate in Russian rivers. Based on the principle of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, states in whose rivers fish originate are responsible for the management of the fish stocks. As a result, quotas of Japanese vessels that catch certain fish are determined through bilateral negotiations even though the ships operate within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The salmon and trout fishing season in Japan’s EEZ usually starts by April 10 after the conclusion of the negotiations. But this year, the negotiation schedule was delayed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The negotiations for 2021 took place from March 29 to April 2, with an agreement reached for a quota of 2,050 tons, and fees of about ¥260 million to ¥300 million, depending on the total catch size.

“We will do our best to maintain and secure the rights and interests involved in fishing activities,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference Monday.