Japan, Russia sign salmon, trout fishing deal despite sanctions

© Kyodo News

Japan and Russia have inked a deal on Tokyo's fishing quota for salmon and trout spawned in Russian rivers, Japan's Fisheries Agency said Monday, in an agreement that comes despite Japan's economic sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

The two countries agreed on a quota of 2,050 tons within Japan's exclusive economic zone for 2022, the same level as last year, and payment to Russia of a "cooperation fee" of between 200 million yen ($1.5 million) and 300 million yen, depending on the actual catch.

The lower end of the fee was reduced by 60 million yen from last year due to declining yields in recent years. Tokyo must pay the fee to Moscow as salmon and trout, according to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, belong to the country in which they were spawned.

With the agreement signed Monday, Japanese fishermen are expected to start operating in the EEZ near Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island, in early May.

The agreement between the two governments over Japan's fishing quota for salmon and trout came late Friday despite Tokyo stepping up sanctions against Moscow to pressure Russia to stop its war in Ukraine.

In Hokkaido, the ban on net fishing for salmon and trout is normally lifted on April 10, with negotiations usually held every spring before the deadline. However, this year, fishing has not been allowed as the ban remained in effect pending the outcome of talks.

In last year's talks, the two countries agreed on a payment to Russia of between 260 million yen and 300 million yen depending on the catch, with the actual fee being about 260 million yen.

Japan's quota within Russia's EEZ, which is usually discussed along with the allocation within Japan's EEZ, remains undecided, and adjustments for the schedule of negotiations are ongoing.

The negotiations are part of many similar frameworks surrounding fishing between Tokyo and Moscow.

The two countries discuss their quotas for fish resources, such as saury and squid, within each other's EEZs throughout the year, but arrangements are not expected to proceed smoothly this year.