Crab fishing boat seized by Russia: Japan official

TOKYO (AFP) – A Japanese crab fishing boat with 10 people on board has been seized by Russian authorities, a Japanese official said yesterday.

The number 68 Nishino-maru was taken to Russia’s eastern port of Nakhodka, where the crew members are expected to be questioned, said an official of Shimane prefecture, western Japan.

“We are asking the Russian side, through diplomatic channels, to release them as soon as possible,” he told AFP, adding that the fishermen were in good condition.

Local media said the boat left Shimane on January 26 to fish for snow crabs, also known as spider crabs, in the Sea of Japan, but lost contact on Wednesday.

The area is surrounded by Japan, Russia and both North and South Korea, and there are frequent disputes over fishing rights as well as claims for possession of small islands and rocky outcrops.

Russia often accuses foreign vessels of illegally catching crabs in its exclusive economic zone.