Aug. 2 (UPI) -- South Korean authorities handed over to the Chinese coast guard a Chinese fishing vessel suspected of operating illegally in North Korean waters.
Seoul's Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said Monday that the apprehended ship was transferred to China Saturday, Yonhap reported.
The 290-ton vessel "Yodaneo 26013" is a fishing trawler that operated at least two trawl nets simultaneously. The boat included 84 crewmembers and entered North Korean waters on June 22, South Korean authorities said.
South Korea tracked the Chinese boat over a distance of more than 1,000 miles before apprehending it, according to JoongAng Ilbo on Monday.
The fishing boat first was detected in waters near the South Korean island of Ulleungdo on the eastern coast June 17, according to the report.
Chinese boats fishing in North Korean waters are in violation of international sanctions. United Nations Security Council Resolution 2371 bans all North Korean exports of seafood. State-managed exports are suspected of financing the regime's nuclear weapons program.
South Korea did not take action against the vessel for 15 days until Saturday because the Chinese boat has the right of passage in South Korean waters. No action can be taken until a boat begins fishing operations in South Korean waters, the report said.
The Chinese trawler attempted to return to the North after the South notified Chinese authorities Saturday. Seoul's fisheries ministry deployed boats to block the fleeing trawler before it was transferred to China, according to Yonhap.
Lim Tae-ho, director of the Guidance and Negotiation Division at the South's fisheries ministry, said the purpose of detaining the boat was to prevent illegal activity.
The preponderance of Chinese boats in North Korea is believed to be driving the depletion of regional squid stock, Lim said.
Last year, Global Fishing Watch, composed of a team of scientists based in South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States, said thousands of Chinese vessels were engaging in "clandestine fishing" in the North, depleting stock and catching more than half a billion dollars' worth of squid.