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Japanese trawler captain charged in March with poaching off Russia's Pacific Coast has been handed over to Japanese officials
A Japanese trawler captain charged in March with poaching off Russia's Pacific Coast has been handed over to Japanese officials, the head of a company arranging visa-free travel from Japan to Russia's Kuril Islands said Monday. Kawabata Takashi, the captain of the Zuisho Maru 38, admitted illegally fishing in Russian waters and was released on April 20 after an order to pay a fine of $13,800. A delegation of Japanese government officials traveled to the Kuril Islands to meet the trawler captain, Valentin Smorchkov of the Kuril-Japan center said. "An agreement to hand Takashi over was reached the day before. The Japanese captain spent 114 days on Shikotan [part of the Kuril archipelago]." The Zuisho Maru 38 was seized on January 21 off Kunashir Island, one of the four Kuril Islands involved in a Russian-Japanese sovereignty dispute, carrying over 1.8 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 of Russia. The Russian Coast Guard has stepped up patrols in the disputed territory as Japanese fishing boats have been frequently intruding in waters around the Kurils.
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