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Japan pushes 300 North Korean boats out of fishing grounds

The Japanese coast guard says its patrol boats have been pushing back hundreds of North Korean boats trying to poach in fishing grounds rich with squid off Japan's northern coast.

Coast Guard officials said Tuesday they have forced more than 300 North Korean boats out of Japan's exclusive economic zone near Yamatotai since May.

The patrol boats used water cannons on 50 North Korean boats that ignored warnings.

In this late May, 2019, photo provided by Japan Coast Guard, Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel approaches a North Korean fishing boat to warn them to leave the waters near Yamatotai, Japan. Coast Guard officials said Tuesday, June 18, they have forced more than 300 North Korean poachers out of Japan’s exclusive economic zone since May near Yamatotai rich with squid. (Japan Coast Guard via AP)

Coast Guard footage obtained Tuesday showed North Korean crewmen on a wooden boat abandon a fishing rope after being sprayed water.

Japanese authorities have stepped up patrols in the area as North Korean poaching has surged in recent years.

Experts say Pyongyang's campaign to boost fish harvests has increased poaching by North Korean boats.

This late May, 2019, photo provided by Japan Coast Guard shows two North Korean fishing boats leaving the waters near Yamatotai, Japan. Coast Guard officials said Tuesday, June 18, they have forced more than 300 North Korean poachers out of Japan’s exclusive economic zone since May near Yamatotai rich with squid. (Japan Coast Guard via AP)

This late May, 2019, photo provided by Japan Coast Guard shows a North Korean fishing boat in the waters near Yamatotai, Japan. Japanese Coast Guard says its patrol boats have been pushing back hundreds of North Korean poachers swarming toward fishing grounds off Japan’s northern coast. (Japan Coast Guard via AP)

This late May, 2019, photo provided by Japan Coast Guard shows a North Korean fishing boat in the waters near Yamatotai, Japan. Japanese Coast Guard says its patrol boats have been pushing back hundreds of North Korean poachers swarming toward fishing grounds off Japan’s northern coast.(Japan Coast Guard via AP)