Japan, Russia Settle Salmon Quota

Fishermen were worried about the deal amid worsening ties between the two governments.

A fishing boat in Nemuro, Japan, April 2016.
A fishing boat in Nemuro, Japan, April 2016.
Kyodo News via AP

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and Russia have reached an agreement over Tokyo’s annual catch quota for Russian-born salmon and trout, the Japanese Fisheries Agency said Saturday, despite delays and chilled relations between the two sides amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The agreement on Japan's quota for the popular fish in waters near disputed islands north of Hokkaido is a relief for Japanese fishermen who were worried about the prospects amid worsening ties between the two governments.

Japan and Russia concluded talks Friday, setting a catch quota of 2,050 tons for salmon and trout this year in Japan’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, the fisheries agency said in a statement. The quota is unchanged from last year, and Japan will pay 200-300 million yen ($1.56-2.34 million) in fees — depending on the actual catch — to Russia.

The deal will be formally signed Monday, the agency said. The payment for the fish of Russian origin is stipulated under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

This year’s annual fishing quota negotiations began after the usual salmon season in the region started, amid growing tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over Japan's sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

The agreement only settles the quota within Japan's economic zone, but Japan still needs to negotiate a quota within the Russian EEZ.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Japan has imposed a series of sanctions against Moscow, largely in line with measures taken by other Group of Seven countries, including freezing the assets of Russian leaders, billionaires and groups, restricting trade and revoking Moscow’s “most favored nation” trade status.

In an apparent reprisal, Russia has announced a suspension of peace treaty talks with Japan that included negotiations over the disputed islands that Tokyo desperately wants to regain control of.

The dispute over the Russian-held islands, which the former Soviet Union seized from Japan at the end of World War II, has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their war hostilities. In an updated diplomatic policy report released Friday, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said the islands are being “illegally occupied” by Russia.

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