Japanese crews to start kelp harvest near Russian-controlled islands

Japanese kelp harvesters are set to start this year's season next week near a group of Russian-controlled islands. The islands are claimed by Japan as an inherent part of its territory. The Russian side has sent a written directive of the agreement terms.

Japanese crews usually start harvesting the seaweed near Kaigara Island on June 1 after fishing associations in the two countries conclude a deal on the conditions of the operation.

But negotiations were notably delayed this year due to complications arising from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The two sides reached an agreement on June 3.

The Hokkaido Fisheries Association said the written directive from their Russian counterparts needed to start the season arrived on Friday.

A local fisheries association will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the operations. Harvesters plan to start gathering kelp as early as Tuesday, if weather permits.

They are eager to start harvesting kelp near Kaigara Island. The kelp is normally of good quality around this time of year and trades at high prices.

The harvest will begin with 220 vessels, 11 fewer than last season.