Russia yesterday released nearly all the Chinese fishermen it detained late last month, with the exception of four captains, according to China News Service.
Russian border authorities told the state news agency that 65 fishermen from four boats were being sent home after they were arrested for crossing into Russian waters in two separate incidents last month.
The boat captains, however, would stay behind to face poaching charges filed against them and their employers, the authorities were quoted as saying.
The release of the 65 would not have been realised so quickly had diplomats of the two countries not treated the incidents with urgency, the Russian government said.
Officials from the Chinese consulate in the southeastern city of Vladivostok, near the border with China, travelled about 85 kilometres east to the port of Nakhodka yesterday to confirm the fishermen's identities and issue them new passports. Russian diplomatic authorities also issued the fishermen documents allowing them to leave Russia.
It was unclear how much the captains would be fined or when they would be released.
Last month, Russia fined a Chinese fishing firm 4 million rubles (HK$982,000) after one of its crew was caught in August 2011 in Russian waters with a cargo of squid.
After a string of cases involving Chinese boats, officials said they were negotiating with Russia to allow Chinese fishermen to enter Russian waters in exchange for 'economic compensation'. Terms of the arrangement were still being discussed.
of the world's fish, crustacean and mollusc output comes from China, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation