The Law of the Sea tribunal in Germany ruled last Monday Russia should return the Hoshin Maru 88 trawler seized off the Kamchatka peninsula on suspicion of poaching to Japan, and also reduced the fine imposed by Russia from 22 to 13 million rubles (around $500,000).
A second claim by Japan over the return of the Tomi Maru 53 trawler, seized in November 2006 for poaching near Kamchatka, was turned down by the tribunal, which upheld the ruling by the Russian court. Captain Takagiwa Matsuo was found guilty of poaching, fined $19,000 and his trawler was impounded.
The Hoshin Maru 88 was stopped by Russian coast guards on suspicion of illegal fishing, during an inspection the trawler was found to have exceeded its legally permitted catch by 14 metric tons.
Russian authorities have been involved in several disputes in recent years over fishing rights in its Pacific waters, particularly with Japanese vessels.
In August 2006, the captain of a Japanese ship was detained near the Kuril Islands off Russia's Pacific Coast in an incident where one of his crewmates was shot and killed by Russian coast guards.