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How Fukushima wastewater into Pacific will disrupt seafood trade

By Ming Wang, Dalian Maritime University, China

Public opinion will dictate how Japanese seafood is received after the wastewater is disposed of into the Pacific Ocean.

The global seafood market faces turmoil with the release of the Fukushima nuclear wastewater from Japan into the Pacific Ocean, computer modelling predicts.

Japan announced in 2021 it would release over 1.25 million tonnes of treated Fukushima radioactive wastewater into the sea as part of its plan to decommission the power station when its storage capacity reaches its limit this year.

Seafood is one of the most important food commodities in international trade, far exceeding meat and milk products. According to the United Nations Comtrade database, global seafood trade has grown from $US7.6 billion in 2009 to $US12.4 billion in 2019, an increase of 63 percent.

The Japanese nuclear wastewater discharge raises global worries about the safety of Japanese seafood as public opinion influences consumers’ preference for seafood.

In this empirical study involving American consumers, 30 percent of respondents said they reduced their seafood consumption following the Fukushima nuclear plant accident and more than half believe Asian seafood poses a risk to consumer health due to the disaster.

Most of Japan’s seafood trading partners, such as China, Russia, India and South Korea, imposed temporary bans on food from several districts around Fukushima in the wake of the accident in 2011.

This paper models the potential impact of the Fukushima nuclear wastewater disposal on the global seafood trade using the import and export data for 26 countries which make up more than 92 percent of the world’s trade in marine products………………..

China, South Korea and the US are expected to increase their seafood imports from Denmark, France, Norway and other community group two countries while reducing seafood exports to them. This is because these three countries have already reduced their seafood trade with Japan.

The increase in exports from community group three to community group two nations leads to a decrease in imports and exports between countries within community group two. For example, the study notes that Denmark, Norway and France are all experiencing a decrease in seafood exports and imports between each other……………………………………..

The model also divided the global seafood market into two segments – the first being the Japanese market and the second comprising 25 other countries. It calculated that Japan’s seafood exports fell by 19 percent in 2021, or $US259 million.

Public opinion after the Fukushima wastewater is discharged will have different impacts on the import and export trade of seafood for each country, especially for countries which trade with Japan.

What people think about the discharge is closely related to the amount of Japanese seafood imported by each country. The higher the amount of Japanese seafood imported by a particular country, the more negative public opinion is likely to be, according to computer modelling…………………………………………………………… more


April 19, 2023 - Posted by | environment, Japan

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