Japan rescues ‘dozens’ of North Korean fishermen

Nellie Chapman
October 9, 2019

"We've been strengthening patrols around the water there in cooperation with the fisheries agency", in recent years following reports that many North Korean fishing boats were poaching fish and squids, he said.

Japan has stepped up patrols in the area as North Korean squid poaching has surged.

Japanese authorities said they are searching for several North Korean fishermen thrown to sea off Japan's northern coast after their boat collided with a Japanese Fisheries Agency patrol vessel and sunk early Monday in an area crowded with poachers from the North.

Japan's coast guard said in a statement: "We have confirmed that there was a collision, and we are now investigating the details".

The North Korean boat sank about half an hour after the collision in the area called Yamatotai, known as rich ground for squid fishing northwest of the Noto Peninsula.

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Japan's fisheries agency said it was calling on the North Korean boat to leave Japan's exclusive economic zone, but the boat drew too close and made contact despite being warned away. It said the North Korean crewmembers had no life-threatening conditions.

According to TBS, a Japanese television news broadcaster, Monday's collision also occurred in an area within the exclusive economic zone. He said officials are investigating how the two ships collided.

Since 2017, the coast guard and the Fisheries Agency have enhanced their patrols in the area.

Experts say some fishermen from the North are traveling far out to sea in order to satisfy government mandates for bigger catches. Japan also said an armed North Korean fishing boat "threatened" a Japanese patrol ship in August.

Japan's Fisheries Agency is charged with expelling foreign boats from the country's EEZ if they are found to be engaging in illegal fishing.

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