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74.5% of Fukui shellfish poachers are from outside prefecture: coast guard

Poached turban shells are pictured in this photo provided by the Tsuruga Coast Guard Office.

TSURUGA, Fukui -- Over 70 percent of those arrested or reported to prosecutors on suspicion of poaching shellfish in Fukui Prefecture between January and August were from other prefectures, the local coast guard office said.

    According to the Tsuruga Coast Guard Office, 51 people were caught in 87 cases of poaching turban shells, ear shells and other shellfish along the Sea of Japan coast in Fukui Prefecture. The number of individuals nabbed on suspicion of poaching shellfish was up 30 percent from a year earlier, while the number of cases was up 20 percent.

    In the largest poaching case of the year so far, 1,408 turban shells weighing about 80 kilograms were taken. In three cases, more than 100 shellfish were caught illegally.

    Thirteen out of the 51 arrested or reported to prosecutors were from Fukui Prefecture, meaning 38 of the suspects were from other prefectures. Of these, 12 are from Aichi Prefecture, followed by 11 from Osaka, six from Gifu and four from Kyoto.

    Some of the suspects filmed the poaching and took photos of the shellfish they caught, and uploaded these images to Facebook or other social networking sites, leading the coast guard office to build at least one criminal case.

    Tsuruga Coast Guard Office official warned tourists against poaching shellfish or other marine products.

    "Some poachers catch shellfish as a kind of leisure activity, but poaching is a criminal offense. We'll continue to conduct an awareness-raising campaign and crack down on poachers in cooperation with local fisheries cooperatives and other organizations," the official said.

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