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Japanese captain caught poaching off Russia's Pacific coast must forfeit his ship and pay a fine of $13,800
A Japanese captain caught poaching off Russia's Pacific coast must forfeit his ship and pay a fine of $13,800, a local court ruled Monday. The Zuisho Maru 38 was seized January 21 off Kunashiri Island, one of four disputed Kuril Islands, carrying over 1.5 metric tons of fish, including cod, Alaska pollack and flounder. The crew did not have a permit to fish inside the three-mile territorial zone. "Considering the circumstances of the case, the prosecutor recommended the court sentence [captain] Kawabata Takashi to a fine of 350,000 rubles ($13,400), the confiscation of the vessel, which was instrumental in the commission of the crime, and payment of 10,980 rubles ($420) to the budget as compensation for damages inflicted," the prosecutor's office on Sakhalin Island said. Takashin, who is also the owner of the boat, had admitted illegally fishing in Russia's territorial waters and asked for the case to be reviewed without a court trial. A preliminary investigation against Takashi began February 1, and he remained in custody while the other five crewmembers were released. There have been frequent seizures of Japanese fishing boats around the Kuril Islands in recent months, with the Russian Coast Guard stepping up patrols in the disputed territory. In August of last year near the Kuril Islands, a Japanese fisherman was killed when Russian border guards fired warning shots at a boat that disobeyed orders to stop. The incident strained relations between Russia and Japan, which have contested the ownership of the Kurils for over 60 years in a dispute that has kept the two countries from signing a formal peace treaty after WWII.
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