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Japan tells China to stop alleged coral poaching

November 5, 2014

TOKYO (AP) — A flotilla of Chinese fishing boats, more than 200 by some reports, has been edging closer to Japan’s mainland in alleged poaching of red coral in Japanese waters.

Recent aerial photos taken by Japan media show dozens of boats dotting the sea off a remote Japanese island.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday that more than 200 boats were spotted last Thursday, and that Japan has made five poaching-related arrests since September.

The boats were first sighted in mid-September near Japan’s Ogasawara islets, 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) south of Tokyo Bay. Since then, they have migrated north to a point near the more populated Izu islets, 440 kilometers (273 miles) south. Island residents have expressed concern that they might try to land, according to Japanese media, if caught for example in a now approaching typhoon.

Kishida urged China to take “effective measures” to deal with the issue.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said earlier that her country prohibits the illegal harvesting of red coral, and that Chinese authorities would keep enhancing supervision and law enforcement.

Red coral, popular in jewelry and ornamental items, can fetch high prices in China.

Update hourly