Japanese Poacher Captain Indicted

The Kamchatka regional environmental prosecutor's office has indicted Fukagawa Zenzo, captain of Japan's trawler "Kaye Maru 3". The suspect is facing up to five years in prison on the Russian Criminal Code, Clause 201, Item 2, says prosecutor Alexander Teplyakov.

Owned by the Japanese-based Kayo Gege Co., Ltd., the trawler underwent a check, March 14th, by special maritime inspectors of Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources near the North Kurils in the Pacific.

The inspectors became suspicious of a flotilla of five trawlers, the "Kaye Maru 3" among them, as it was on its way back to the seaport Kushiro to dispose of the catch with the holds half-empty. The ships had been trawling Alaska pollock in the Russian exclusive economic zone, with 87 to 160 tonnes of fish each, according to log books, as against the hold capacity of 550 tonnes.

The "Kaye Maru 3" check found 556 tonnes of pollock on board, with a mere 84.476 tonnes registered, plus 1.6 tonnes of cod, halibut and plaice, whose catch was unauthorised.

The crew, exceeding twenty-all Japanese nationals, are stranded on board for questionings. The cash expertise is over for today.

Criminal proceedings may start against a Russian government inspector who monitored the "Kaye Maru 3". It is unclear yet whether he will be accused of criminal negligence or abuse of office.