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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

4 Japanese Fishing Boats Seized in Far East

TOKYO -- Russian authorities seized four Japanese fishing boats near disputed waters off the Far East coast, accusing them of poaching, but later released one of the vessels, Japan's Foreign Ministry and media said Saturday.

Russian border patrol boats intercepted and searched the vessels off the Kamchatka peninsula, just north of islands claimed by both Japan and Russia, on Oct. 31, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The boat crews were taken to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky for questioning, Foreign Ministry official Minori Okazaki said.

One of the boats, Dairin Maru No. 5, was released Saturday, the ministry statement said.

Russian authorities found 5.5 tons of illegally caught sea produce on one of the boats, Kyodo News agency reported Saturday, citing Interfax.

The vessels were thought to be fishing for walleye pollock, Kyodo said.

The Japanese government is trying to confirm the allegations and determine how many people were on board through its consulate in Vladivostok, Okazaki said.

Kyodo said the three other boats are Gyokuryu Maru, Yokei Maru No. 5 and Tomi Maru No. 53.

The crew of Gyokuryu Maru included 15 Japanese nationals and seven Indonesians, Kyodo reported. It did not report details of crew on the other vessels. Russian authorities have stepped up patrols in and around disputed waters between the two countries.