Will North Korea’s Squid Poaching Strain Its Close Ties With Russia?

Will North Korea’s Squid Poaching Strain Its Close Ties With Russia?
A North Korean fishing boat in the Sea of Japan, late May 2019 (Japan Coast Guard via AP Images).

Russian border guards have escalated a crackdown on North Korean squid poachers in recent weeks, detaining dozens of fishing vessels and hundreds of crew members for illegally fishing inside Russia’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan. Moscow had previously ignored North Korean incursions into its waters, but the increasing scale of the problem and a mounting domestic outcry finally prompted authorities to take action. In an email interview with WPR, Artyom Lukin, a scholar specializing in Russia’s ties with East Asia at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia, explains the timing behind Russia’s clampdown and how this issue is affecting the two countries’ broader relationship.

World Politics Review: How extensive is the North Korean practice of poaching in waters claimed by Russia? Has it intensified in recent years due to harsher sanctions being imposed on North Korea?

Artyom Lukin: North Korean poaching in Russian coastal waters in the Sea of Japan dates back decades, but over the past two or three years the scale of this practice has increased remarkably, leading to a small crisis in the waters of the Russian Far East. Since June, hundreds—by some accounts even thousands—of North Korean schooners and motorboats have illegally entered Russia’s exclusive economic zone to fish, mostly for squid. Apart from fishing without authorization from Russian authorities, the North Korean flotillas use destructive fishing methods like drift nets, which severely harm the marine environment by indiscriminately catching and killing many different species. To top it all off, local Russian fishermen also accuse the North Koreans of damaging or stealing their fishing gear in the process.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.