North Korea boat collides with Japan sea patrol

An official of the Japanese Fisheries Agency speaks to media following a collision between its patrol boat and a North Korean fishing boat in Tokyo Monday Oct. 7 2019. The agency said Monday's collision occurred in the area known as Yamatotai off

The collision came less than a week after North Korea launched a missile that landed off Japan's coast in its exclusive economic zone.

The two ships collided in the Sea of Japan at around 9 a.m., about 350 kilometres off the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Japanese fisheries patrols have issued almost 500 expulsion orders to poachers between May and August this year, a lot of them from North Korea, according to the Fisheries Agency.

Japan has stepped up patrols in the area in recent years as North Korean squid poaching has surged.

Japan's Coast Guard said on Monday more than 10 crew members of the North Korean fishing vessel involved in an accident with a Japanese patrol boat were rescued.

"It appears probably no one else is left in the water", a Japan Coast Guard official said.

The collision took place near a rich fishing ground known as the Yamato Shallows. It said Japan previous year made 5,315 such orders to foreign fishing boats in the area, many of them North Korean.

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Chinese and North Korean boats are routinely seen in this maritime zone from June through December which is peak season for fishing.

The North Korean ship, believed to be a fishing vessel, capsized after the crash with Japanese patrol boat Okuni, the spokesman added.

He said, "Patrol vessels of both Japan's fisheries agency and Coast Guard have been participating in the crackdown and lookout activities".

Meanwhile, Russia continues to arrest North Korean fishing vessels engaging in what it calls persistent, large-scale intrusion into its EEZ in the Far East for illegal poaching.

Experts say the increase is due to North Korea's campaign to boost fish harvests.

Boats have also washed up on Japanese shores with the crew on board dead - referred to as "ghost ships" by local media.

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