Russia ordered to release Japanese fishing vessel

Updated: 2007-08-07 02:02

HAMBURG - The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia on Monday to release a Japanese fishing boat and its crew of 17 seized in waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula two months ago.

The Hamburg-based court also ordered Japan to pay bail of 10 million roubles ($392,000) for the release of the Hoshin Maru No. 88. That was reduced from the 22 million roubles Russia had demanded for bail.

The fishing vessel was captured by a Russian border guard vessel in early June after Russian authorities inspected it on suspicion of carrying catch exceeding the declared amount.

The court said the complaint by Russia that the Hoshin Maru had illegally declared 20 tonnes of raw sockeye salmon as cheaper chum salmon "should not be considered as a minor offence or as an offence of a purely technical nature".

Fishing disputes between the neighbouring nations break out mainly near a group of islands that are the subject of a 50-year-old territorial tug-of-war between Moscow and Tokyo.

The boat belongs to a fisheries firm in Toyama prefecture in western Japan.

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