Russia approves Japanese fishing around northern territories

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The northern territories are seen from above Nemuro Peninsula, lower left, in Hokkaido.

Russia has approved Japanese fishing operations to catch Okhotsk atka mackerel in waters around Kunashiri island of the northern territories, according to the Hokkaido Fisheries Association.

Okhotsk atka mackerel, locally known as hokke, is usually sun-dried for preservation as a food source.

In June, the Russian government suspended the implementation of an agreement between Japan and Russia aimed at the safe operation of Japanese fishing boats in waters around the northern territories. The Russian side made that announcement on the grounds that the payment of aid to a cooperation project with the state of Sakhalin had not been completed.

According to the fisheries association and other sources, subsequent negotiations have resulted in the completion of aid payments and other procedures.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry then contacted the fisheries association in charge of negotiations with Russia to inform it that the Russian side has approved the fishing operations.

As a result, gill net fishing for Okhotsk atka mackerel around Kunashiri Island is expected to begin as early as Friday.

The safe operation agreement is one of several deals between Japan and Russia concerning fishing. Under the agreement, such terms as the size of catches, the fishing season and the number of boats are determined through negotiations in order to prevent the seizure of Japanese fishing vessels by Russian authorities.

The conditions for this year’s operation were decided last December, so gill net fishing for Okhotsk atka mackerel was originally scheduled to begin Sept. 16 before the suspension.