Chairman of the Russian State Fishery Committee Yuri Sinelnik announced Thursday that if Kuriles are returned to Japan, Russia will loose $1 billion dollars annually. He added that when Putin discussed the matter with the Japanese PM, he could see understanding on Mr. Mori’s face. Both states have a common enemy in the face of international poachers.
The State Fishery Committee believes the Japanese are not so much interested in the territory of the disputed isles, as the in fish stocks and other sea products. Indeed the waters that wash the shores of the isles are apparently so rich with fish, that should Russia loose the isles, at least $1 billion dollars [would] be lost in revenues per year.
Soviet troops seized the islands in 1945 on the eve of Japan’s surrender to Allied forces. Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, coastal states have exclusive economic sovereignty rights in a 200-nautical mile zone with respect to natural resources and certain economic activities, and exercise jurisdiction over marine science research and environmental protection. Therefore, Russia’s Okhotsk Sea that washes the disputed isles, and its natural resources belong to Russia.
If it was not for poachers, the sea would bring much higher revenues, holds Sinelnik. According to the Fishery Committee’s calculations, in 1999 estimations of the damage caused by poachers, amounted to $700 million. The State Fishery Committee is especially concerned that the criminals are believed to have close ties with Japanese Mafia structures, the so-called Yakudzi.
“We have information that several fishing companies have connections with Russian and Japanese criminal groups,” asserted Sinelnik and added that the commission is trying to get their licenses annulled.
Sinelnik did not deny the allegations that quite often his agency’s officials assist the criminals. He said in only one inspection, 2 inspectors were replaced, 9 Japanese fishing vessels that that had exceeded fishing quotas were detected (disclosed) and the violators were fined nearly $2.5 million.
Russia’s fishing chief is convinced that Japanese organized crime has wide ties with Russian criminal world and that new legislation has taken that fact into account: “It has taken seven years to elaborate and to adopt the new bill on fishery.”
The bill has been passed by the State Duma but is yet to be ratified by the Federation Council, thus yet to come into force.
Yuri Sinelnik told Gazeta.Ru about the measures his agency’s cooperation with the law enforcers to combat the poachers. He complained that the Japanese authorities effectively turn a blind eye on illicit fish imports from Russian waters.
Yet Sinelnik has some hope that this may change. He told Gazeta.Ru that Vladimir Putin during his visit to Tokyo earlier this week discussed the matter with the Prime Minister of Japan Yoshiro Mori. “I saw understanding written on Mori’s face,” said Sinelnik. “The Japanese premier promised that he would pay special attention to the problem.”
Hopefully, Mori will pay attention to the problem, not only to help Russian fishermen, but also to avoid people of suspecting him of having contacts with the Yakudzi.
October 3, 2000 Extracted from Gazeta.Ru http://www.gazeta.ru/ygfirw.shtml