A Fisheries Agency patrol vessel collided with a North Korean ship in a prime fishing area in the Sea of Japan on Oct. 7, throwing the intruding vessel’s crew overboard.
The incident occurred at 9:05 a.m. around the Yamatotai fishing grounds while the patrol vessel Okuni was monitoring for ships intruding into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to the Japan Coast Guard.
The North Korean ship sank around 9:30 a.m., tossing about 20 crew members into the sea.
The Okuni has been engaging in rescue operations, with more than 10 people rescued so far.
According to the agency, the Okuni confirmed that the North Korean ship had been in the EEZ.
Before the collision, the Okuni ordered the trespassing ship to leave.
The collision site is about 350 kilometers northwest of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. The Yamatotai fishing grounds is in a shallower area and is known to be good for catching “surumeika” (Japanese flying squid).
Illegal fishing by North Korean ships has increased in the area since around autumn 2016.
Since 2017, the Japan Coast Guard and the Fisheries Agency have enhanced their patrols in the area.
The Japan Coast Guard has issued warnings to 1,016 North Korean ships to leave the waters as of the morning of Oct. 7.