The government of Russia’s Far Eastern region of Sakhalin has joined the efforts to release the Xian Hai Lin 8 fishing vessel, detained by North Korea, the regional government’s press service said on Wednesday.
“Relevant authorities are now looking into the matter. First of all, it is important to ensure the safety of the crew, which includes three residents of the Sakhalin region,” the press service quoted regional governor Sergei Budkin as saying in a statement. “We will try to do our best to solve the matter in the promptest and most favorable way.”
According to the press service, the ship was detained overnight to July 17, when it was on its way from the South Korean port of Sokcho-si to the Sea of Japan. The ship’s crew comprises 15 citizens of Russia and two citizens of South Korea.
“The situation is now being handled by the Russian embassy in North Korea. Diplomats have already managed to meet with the crew. Matters of the crew’s soonest return are now being solved,” the press service said.
The Russian embassy in Pyongyang said in a statement on its Facebook page that it was taking all necessary measures to solve the problem.
“At present, we are looking into the circumstances of the incident. The Russian embassy maintains permanent contacts with the North Korean authorities and the top management of [the ship’s owner] Northeastern Fishing Company. The embassy is taking all the necessary measures to settle the situation within the shortest possible timeframe,” the statement reads.
“All crew members are in good health,” the embassy added.
The ship’s owner said the ship was detained for crossing “into some 50-mile zone.”
“It is unknown what kind of zone this is. It cannot be found on any international map. No one knows where it came from, no one can explain,” the source said.
A Russian Foreign Ministry’s representative in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok told TASS earlier in the day that a Russian-flagged vessel with 17 crew was detained by North Korea last week. Media reports said the detained vessel was the Xian Hai Lin 8 seiner, owned by the Sakhalin-based Northeastern Fishing Company. The ship, flying the Russian flag, was built in 2015 and has a deadweight of 180 tonnes.