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Japanese Patrol Vessel Rescues N. Korean Fishermen After Collision

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Image courtesy Japan Coast Guard

By The Maritime Executive 2019-10-07 19:11:50

On Monday morning, a Japanese Fisheries Agency patrol vessel collided with a North Korean fishing boat, sinking it and prompting a search for survivors. About 60 individuals - all of those affected - have been safely rescued, the agency said. 

According to Japanese officials, the North Korean vessel had entered Japan's EEZ without authorization. The Japanese patrol boat was in the process of ordering the fishing vessel to depart when the collision occurred, officials said. The Japanese vessel was not seriously damaged, but the North Korean boat sank. 

About 60 fishermen were on board the boat, and the Fisheries Agency vessel has rescued all survivors, officials told the AP. None are believed to be missing, and no life-threatening injuries were reported. The Fisheries Agency vessel transferred all survivors to another North Korean boat for repatriation and notified North Korean authorities of the incident.  

The collision occurred at a bank in the Sea of Japan known as Yamato-tai, which is located about 150-190 nm off the town of Wajima on Honshu's east coast. The area sees frequent incursions by North Korean fishing vessels targeting squid, and Japan has mounted a large-scale effort to prevent poaching. Over the course of the summer season, Japanese patrol vessels have ordered about 500 foreign poaching vessels to leave Japan's EEZ, including 300 in the same area. In previous encounters, Japanese patrol boats have occasionally used water cannon to drive off North Korean fishermen. 
 
An investigation into the cause of the collision is under way, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a speech Monday, and he promised that "we will resolutely respond to prevent poaching by foreign fishing boats in the Japanese exclusive economic zone."

Russian border forces have also clashed with North Korean fishermen in recent months. In September, Russian border agency FSB reported that the crew of a North Korean vessel conducted an armed attack on a Russian border patrol ship, injuring three servicemembers.