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Focus is on fishermen’s understanding of treated water; Governor does not approve of ocean discharge itself

After handing a written response to TEPCO Holdings President Tomoaki Kobayakawa, reporters interview (from left) Shiro Izawa, Mayor of Futaba Town; Masao Uchibori, Governor of Fukushima Prefecture; and Jun Yoshida, Mayor of Okuma Town at the Fukushima Prefectural Office on August 2, 2022, at 5:18 p.m. Photo by Daisuke Wada

Aug. 2, 2022
Regarding the release into the ocean of treated water that continues to accumulate at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Fukushima Prefecture Governor Masao Uchibori and the mayors of Okuma and Futaba, both located in Fukushima Prefecture, informed TEPCO Holdings President Tomoaki Kobayakawa on August 2 of their intention to give their prior approval for the start of construction necessary for the release. TEPCO had asked the three parties for their approval last December. TEPCO will now begin full-scale construction work, including the installation of an undersea tunnel, to discharge treated water approximately 1 km offshore from the No. 1 nuclear power plant. The offshore discharge is scheduled for the spring of 2023.

 The “prior consent” by the prefecture and the two towns is based on an agreement between TEPCO and the municipalities where the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is located to ensure safety in the decommissioning of the plant. TEPCO is required to obtain the approval of each municipality regarding technical safety when constructing new facilities or decommissioning existing ones. Meanwhile, the government and TEPCO have promised the prefectural federation of fishermen’s associations that “no disposal will take place without the understanding of the concerned parties. One of the focal points will be whether or not they can gain the understanding of the prefectural fishermen’s federation.

When President Kobayakawa visited the prefectural government that day, Governor Uchibori, Okuma Mayor Jun Yoshida, and Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa responded that they had “confirmed the technical safety” of the implementation plan for the No. 1 nuclear power plant, which includes designs and procedures for facilities to discharge treated water into the sea. The three parties then made requests regarding the control of new generation of highly contaminated water and the appropriate management of secondary wastes such as contaminated soil.

Fukushima Prefecture Governor Masao Uchibori (second from left) conveys his response to TEPCO HD President Tomoaki Kobayakawa (far right) on an application for prior approval of necessary construction work. Far left is Shiro Izawa, mayor of Futaba Town, and third from left is Jun Yoshida, mayor of Okuma Town, at Fukushima Prefectural Office on August 2, 2022; photo by Daisuke Wada.

Governor Uchibori commented, “There are various opinions, such as concerns about new rumors, opposition to the offshore discharge, and fears about the impact of land-based storage on reconstruction efforts. It cannot be said that the people of the prefecture and the public have a sufficient understanding of the situation,” he stressed. He called for the government and TEPCO to take responsibility for providing careful and sufficient explanations to deepen the understanding of all concerned parties, and to sincerely listen to their wishes and engage in dialogue with them.

After the meeting, Governor Uchibori explained to reporters, “Based on the safety assurance agreement, we confirmed that the necessary safety measures have been taken for the facilities planned by TEPCO. He emphasized that he did not approve the discharge of treated water into the ocean itself. Meanwhile, President Kobayakawa said, “We will give top priority to safety so that the decommissioning work can proceed with the trust of the local people and the reconstruction of the region can make steady progress.

 There has been strong opposition to the offshore discharge, especially from local fishermen who are concerned about harmful rumors. Against this backdrop, TEPCO has been steadily advancing preparatory work since last December, which does not require prior approval. The construction of a shaft that will serve as the entrance to the submarine tunnel and a discharge port that will serve as the exit are underway, and these works are scheduled to be completed in October this year.

 The Nuclear Regulation Commission of Japan has already approved the implementation plan for the No. 1 nuclear power plant in July, which includes the installation of an undersea tunnel for discharging treated water. The safety of the plan was discussed by the prefectural government and the local municipalities, and a report stating that “the safety of the surrounding area will be ensured” was submitted to the prefectural government and the two towns. Eina Isogai and Naohiro Hinuma


August 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO Approves Plan to Discharge Treated Water into Ocean, Focuses on Local Consent to Begin Construction

TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

July 22, 2022
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) held an extraordinary meeting on July 22 and approved a plan for the offshore discharge of treated water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma and Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture), finding no safety issues. TEPCO plans to begin full-scale construction of the discharge facilities after obtaining the consent of local authorities. TEPCO aims to begin discharging the water in the spring of next year.

Flow of discharging treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

 TEPCO applied for the review in December 2021. According to the plan, the concentration of tritium, a radioactive substance, in the treated water will be diluted with a large amount of seawater so that it is less than 1/40th of the national standard, and discharged about 1 km offshore through a newly constructed undersea tunnel.

 Protesters in front of the Nuclear Regulation Authority protest TEPCO’s plan to discharge treated water into the ocean at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Roppongi, Tokyo, on the afternoon of July 22.

There is strong opposition to the discharge of treated water into the ocean, mainly from the fishing industry, which is concerned about harmful rumors.

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fish contaminated with radiation caught off northeastern Fukushima Prefecture

This 2007 file photo shows black rockfish.

February 24, 2021

FUKUSHIMA — Radioactive cesium five times above permitted levels in Japan has been detected in black rockfish caught in northeastern Fukushima Prefecture, according to a Feb. 22 announcement by a local fishing association.

Some 500 becquerels per kilogram of cesium was found in black rockfish caught at a depth of 24 meters about 8.8 kilometers off the town of Shinchi, exceeding the national standard level of 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations has since halted distribution of the fish until it can confirm their safety. The voluntary suspension of seafood shipments by the fishing body marks the first time since October 2019, when 53 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium was detected in a white sea perch, exceeding the standard level set by the group at 50 becquerels per kilogram.

The fishing association has been conducting test fishing since June 2012 on a limited scale. After shipping restrictions on common skate were lifted in February 2020, shipment of all fish was permitted. The fishing body aims to resume full fishing operations in April.

February 25, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive Materials in Black Rockfish Off Fukushima Coast: Shipment Suspended

February 22, 2021, 7:09 pm

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (FISHMA) has suspended shipments of a fish called “Kurosoy” that was landed on February 22 in an experimental fishery off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. This is the first time in about two years that radioactive materials exceeding the standard have been detected in the fishery off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, and in February of last year, the shipping restrictions were lifted for all fish species.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, on the 22nd, radioactive materials were detected in a fish called “Kurosoy,” which was caught in a fishing ground 8.8 kilometers off the coast of Shinchi Town at a depth of 24 meters.

As a result of detailed measurements at a prefectural laboratory, the concentration of radioactive cesium was 500 becquerels per kilogram, exceeding the national food standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The prefectural fishermen’s federation has also decided to suspend the shipment of black rockfish until the safety of the fish is confirmed, as it exceeded the voluntary standard of 50 becquerels per kilogram set by the federation.

The national government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters is expected to order restrictions on the shipment of black rockfish.

The amount of blue rockfish landed in the past year was 3 tons, which is less than 1% of the total landings of the experimental fishery being conducted off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.

This is the first time that radioactive materials exceeding the national standard have been detected since February of two years ago in the common kasube, a species of ray-finned fish, and in February of last year, the shipping restrictions were lifted for all fish species off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.

Prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center: “There is a possibility of fish entering and leaving the nuclear power plant port

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center, which has been continuously measuring the concentration of radioactive materials in fish and shellfish off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, the detected levels have dropped significantly compared to immediately after the nuclear accident.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center, which has been continuously measuring the levels of radioactive materials, the levels detected have decreased significantly compared to the levels immediately after the nuclear accident.

We also examined 50 samples of black carp, and all of them were below the detection limit.

On the other hand, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) once detected a radioactive substance of about 900 becquerels per kilogram in a sample of black rockfish taken for investigation in the harbor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has installed nets at the entrance and exit of the harbor to prevent fish from entering and leaving the harbor, but the prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center is investigating the possibility that the black rockfish got out for some reason, and is investigating the cause of the detection of radioactive materials exceeding the standard.

Kyoichi Kamiyama, director of the Radioactivity Research Department at the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center, said, “Considering the low concentration of radioactive materials in the seawater and seabed off Shinchi Town, we really don’t know why such high levels of radioactive cesium were detected. We would like to investigate the cause, taking into consideration the possibility that fish are coming in and out of the harbor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

February 25, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Lifts Shipment Restrictions on All Fish Species off Fukushima

gkjllmmPeople in the fishing industry, including fishermen and brokers, work briskly on Feb. 7, 2019, at the Matsukawaura fishing port in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan Lifts Shipment Restrictions on All Fish Species off Fukushima

February 25, 2020

Fukushima, Feb. 25 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government has lifted shipment restrictions on all of its designated fish species caught off Fukushima Prefecture that were introduced due to the 2011 nuclear disaster, a panel said Tuesday.

The government’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters announced the lifting after fish of the one last remaining species of the 43 satisfied safety standards.

The restrictions had covered the 43 fish species caught off Fukushima, which hosts the disaster-crippled Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The last one is a species of skate.

In August 2016, the shipment restrictions on the fish were lifted. But in January 2019, the restrictions were reinstated after above-limit cesium was detected from skates caught off Fukushima.

Currently, members of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations voluntarily refrain from fishing in waters within 10 kilometers of the TEPCO plant, which underwent a triple meltdown after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Fishermen in Fukushima now free to ship all catches of fish

February 26, 2020

The last restrictions on fish taken off Fukushima Prefecture were lifted on Feb. 25, freeing fishermen here to ship any species caught in the area.

A ban was imposed on ocellate skate after one caught in the area was found to have levels of radioactive cesium exceeding the government standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram in January 2019. 

The government task force on the Fukushima nuclear disaster removed restrictions on the bottom-feeding species related to rays after the prefecture measured levels in about 1,000 fish, and found none exceeded the standard.

The maximum amount found in the fish was 17 becquerels.

The prefecture has since asked the government to lift the restrictions.

Restrictions were placed on 43 species of fish caught off the coast of the prefecture following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The restrictions were lifted in stages after the safety of the fish was confirmed, with some fishing allowed on a trial basis.

In 2019, with trial fishing on limited days and in specified areas, the annual catch from the area stood at 3,584 tons, only about 14 percent of that in 2010, a year before the nuclear disaster.

Discussions will now start to resume full operation.

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | 1 Comment

Young woman leads revival of Fukushima’s fishing industry

When economic considerations take precedence over radioactive contamination and people’s health…

February 9, 2020
FUKUSHIMA: A courageous young graduate recently crowdfunded 3 million yen to help revive Fukushima’s sagging fishing industry.
The fishermen at the Iwaki market can put their money on Hiromi Sakaki, whom they can rely on as the manager of the Osakana Hiroba Hamasui (Fish Plaza Hamasui) shop, which she now jointly operates with them at Hisanohama.
The Japan News by Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Hiromi was given the honour of launching the shop, where she tied a ribbon around a monkfish.
Fukushima’s fishing industry was dealt a severe blow following a nuclear plant leak nine years ago.
Hiromi, 27, had moved to Iwaki from Aomori Prefecture in 2017, after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, that caused a radioactive contamination leak from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants.
Hiromi Sakaki tying a ribbon around d a monkfish at the opening of an outlet jointly operated by her and local fishermen at the Iwaki market in Fukushima, Japan.
The radiation also affected farmers who are still reeling from huge losses.
“I want to sell delicious fish that people can buy only here, Although this is a port town, fishing here has been on the decline. So I started thinking about creating a place where children would aspire to become fishermen in the future,” said Hiromi, who had graduated from Saitama University, and whose shop sells fish like sea bass and flounder.
Hiromi first became familiar with the Fukushima fishermen after she became a volunteer to send used bicycles to Iwaki.
Her shop has a window where customers can see fish being processed.
“This is intended to help children get an idea about who caught the fish and what happens to bring them to the dining table.
“I intend to offer breakfast featuring fresh fish at the shop under the name “Ryoshi shokudo” (Fisherman’s diner) in the near future,” she said.
The city’s fisheries cooperative association revealed that there were seven fish markets and four fishery processing companies in Hisanohama before the disaster.
Now, there is only one fish retailer, which is a traveling market.
Fukushima’s fishing industry continues to face restrictions, but fishermen in the prefecture are allowed to operate on a trial basis under which they face limitations on the species the catch, fishing areas, and the number of days they can catch.

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima fishermen concerned for future over release of radioactive water

Eight years after the triple disaster, Japan’s local industry faces fresh crisis – the dumping of radioactive water from the power plant


4500Last year’s catch was just 16% of pre-crisis levels, partly because of the Japanese public’s reluctance to eat fish caught off Fukushima due to the radioactive water.

September 16, 2019

On the afternoon of 11 March 2011, Tetsu Nozaki watched helplessly as a wall of water crashed into his boats in Onahama, a small fishing port on Japan’s Pacific coast.

Nozaki lost three of his seven vessels in one of the worst tsunami disasters in Japan’s history, part of a triple disaster in which 18,000 people died. But the torment for Nozaki and his fellow fishermen didn’t end there. The resulting triple meltdown at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people and sent a plume of radiation into the air and sea.

It also came close to crippling the region’s fishing industry.

Having spent the past eight years rebuilding, the Fukushima fishing fleet is now confronting yet another menace – the increasing likelihood that the nuclear plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), will dump huge quantities of radioactive water into the ocean.

We strongly oppose any plans to discharge the water into the sea,” Nozaki, head of Fukushima prefecture’s federation of fisheries cooperatives, told the Guardian.

Nozaki said local fishermen had “walked through brick walls” to rebuild their industry and confront what they say are harmful rumours about the safety of their seafood. Last year’s catch was just 16% of pre-crisis levels, partly because of the public’s reluctance to eat fish caught off Fukushima.

Currently, just over one million tonnes of contaminated water is held in almost 1,000 tanks at Fukushima Daiichi, but the utility has warned that it will run out of space by the summer of 2022.

Tepco has struggled to deal with the buildup of groundwater, which becomes contaminated when it mixes with water used to prevent the three damaged reactor cores from melting. Although the utility has drastically reduced the amount of wastewater, about 100 tonnes a day still flows into the reactor buildings.

Releasing it into the sea would also anger South Korea, adding to pressure on diplomatic ties already shaken by a trade dispute linked to the countries’ bitter wartime history.

Seoul, which has yet to lift an import ban on Fukushima seafood introduced in 2013, claimed last week that discharging the water would pose a “grave threat” to the marine environment – a charge rejected by Japan.

Fukushima fisheries officials point out that they operate a stringent testing regime that bans the sale of any seafood found to contain more than 50 becquerels of radioactive material per kilogram – a much lower threshold than the standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram observed in the rest of Japan.

At Onahama’s testing centre, just metres from where the catch is unloaded, eight employees conduct tests that last between five and 30 minutes depending on the size of the sample. “Tepco has said that the water can be diluted and safely discharged, but the biggest problem facing us is the spread of harmful rumours,” Hisashi Maeda, a senior Fukushima fisheries official, said as he showed the Guardian around the facility.

Confirming Maeda’s fears, almost a third of consumers outside Fukushima prefecture indicated in a survey that dumping the contaminated water into the sea would make them think twice about buying seafood from the region, compared with 20% who currently avoid the produce.

Tepco’s Advanced Liquid Processing System removes highly radioactive substances, such as strontium and caesium, from the water but the technology does not exist to filer out tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that coastal nuclear plants commonly dump along with water into the ocean. Tepco admitted last year, however, that the water in its tanks still contained contaminants beside tritium.

Supporters of the discharge option have pointed out that water containing high levels of tritium, which occurs in minute amounts in nature, would not be released until it has been diluted to meet safety standards.

But Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany who regularly visits Fukushima, said a proportion of radioactive tritium had the potential to deliver a concentrated dose to cell structures in plants, animals or humans. “Dilution does not avoid this problem,” he said.

Burnie believes the solution is to continue storing the water, possibly in areas outside the power plant site – a move that is likely to encounter opposition from nuclear evacuees whose abandoned villages already host millions of cubic metres of radioactive soil.

There is no short-term solution to the water problem at Fukushima Daiichi, as groundwater will continue to enter the site and become contaminated,” Burnie said. “A major step would be for the government to start being honest with the Japanese people and admit that the scale of the challenges at the site mean their entire schedule for decommissioning is a fantasy.”

No other option’

Government officials say they won’t make a decision until they have received a report from an expert panel, but there are strong indications that dumping is preferred over other options such a vaporising, burying or storing the water indefinitely.

Shinjiro Koizumi, the new environment minister, has not indicated if he shares his predecessor’s belief, voiced last week, that there is “no other option” but to discharge the water into the sea.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has recommended that Japan release the treated water, while Toyoshi Fuketa, the chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, said a decision on its future must be made soon.

We are entering a period in which further delays in deciding what measure to implement will no longer be tolerable,” Fuketa said, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

Putting off a decision could delay work to locate and remove melted fuel from the damaged reactors – a process that is already expected to take four decades.

Critics say the government is reluctant to openly support the dumping option for fear of creating a fresh controversy over Fukushima during the Rugby World Cup, which starts this week, and the buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Nozaki said he and other fishermen throughout Fukushima would continue the fight to keep the water out of the ocean. “Releasing the water would send us back to square one,” he said. “It would mean the past eight years have amounted to nothing.”

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Last fishing port in Fukushima to reopen

June 4, 2019
A fishing port in Tomioka in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture is expected to reopen next month after being closed for more than eight years.
The massive earthquake and tsunami that hit eastern Japan in 2011 caused the severe Fukushima nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture.
Nine of the prefecture’s 10 fishing ports affected by the triple disaster have already reopened.
Tomioka Port is known as the main port for catching tasty flatfish and flounders.
Its wharves and breakwater were damaged by the quake and tsunami, and an evacuation order was issued for Tomioka and other fishing ports in Fukushima Prefecture.
That evacuation order was lifted in April 2017, and work has been underway to rebuild the port.
Fishing boats based at Tomioka Port were sent to other ports in the prefecture, such as Iwaki City and Namie Town. Officials say these boats are expected to return to Tomioka.
Tomioka Town and the local fisheries cooperative plan to hold a ceremony in July to celebrate the return of the fishing boats and fishers to the port.


June 10, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive cesium above legal limit detected in fish caught off Fukushima

Feb 2, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – Radioactive cesium exceeding the state limit has been detected in fish caught off Fukushima Prefecture for the first time in about four years, the prefecture’s fisheries cooperatives association has said.
The cesium level of 161 becquerels per kilogram, exceeding the limit of 100, was detected in a skate, a type of ray, caught at a depth of 62 meters during test fishing Thursday.
The association stopped the shipments of skates caught in the waters. The fish will be taken off the market until safety is confirmed.
The prefecture will collect more samples for research and the central government will judge the safety of the fish.
In radiation checks of fish by the Fukushima Prefectural Government, a cesium level exceeding the limit was last detected in a stone flounder in March 2015, at 140 becquerels per kilogram.
The prefecture is home to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

February 3, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima fishermen expand fishing zone to within 10 km of crippled nuclear plant


Restricted fishing zone around Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to be reduced to 10km. Tests not looking for Sr-90. In my humble opinion a 7 mile radius is not nearly enough given the unfathomable quantities of radiation that have escaped, or been willingly released into the Pacific ocean. It has reached the west coast of North America via the North Pacific Gyre and the abundance of aquatic life it carries with it.

We keep saying sea products from Fukushima are safe, based on the results of radioactive tests,” Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the federation, told reporters after it held a meeting in the city of Iwaki on Tuesday.

yes, you keep saying it…

FUKUSHIMA – Fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture have decided to expand the fishing zone off the northeastern prefecture nearly six years after a nuclear crisis caused havoc in the region.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations will next month narrow down the restricted zone to within a 10-km radius of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant from the current 20 km.

In January last year the federation proposed expanding the fishing area, citing a declining density of radioactive material in the sea following the completion in October 2015 of seawalls to prevent contaminated underground water entering the ocean from the plant.

But the plan was postponed amid concerns over contaminated debris, which has since been removed.

We keep saying sea products from Fukushima are safe, based on the results of radioactive tests,” Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the federation, told reporters after it held a meeting in the city of Iwaki on Tuesday.

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Fish and Shellfish Radiation Levels Drop”Announced”


Volunteer group continues checking fish off Fukushima as radiation levels drop

An olive flounder, estimated at 11 years old, measuring 90 centimeters long and caught in waters near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, is seen on a ship about 2 kilometers from the plant, on Nov. 13, 2016.

IWAKI, Fukushima — As radioactive cesium levels in fish caught off the Fukushima Prefecture coast show lower levels that fall within safety limits set by the government, the Mainichi Shimbun recently accompanied a volunteer group that continues to measure these fish on one of its outings.
The group, called “Iwaki Kaiyo Shirabetai Umi Labo” (Iwaki marine investigative squad ocean lab), began its activities three years ago. Rather than relying on the national government, Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. or others for data on radioactive pollution in the ocean off Fukushima Prefecture, the group aims to obtain this information itself and share it across the country.

On Nov. 13, a Mainichi Shimbun reporter boarded one of the group’s fishing ships, which set out from Hisanohama Port in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Two kilometers from the disaster-stricken plant, the group pulled up a large, 90-centimeter, 7.7-kilogram olive flounder. This fish was caught by Eriko Kawanishi, a civil servant who came from Tokyo to participate in the outing and said it was her first time ever to hold a fishing rod. A 90-centimeter fish would be a rare catch even for a veteran fisherman.

The olive flounder was refrigerated and taken back to veterinarian Seiichi Tomihara at the Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium in Iwaki for dissection. Based on the growth rings on its “otoliths,” a structure located near the brain, Tomihara estimated the fish’s age at 11 years. He said there is research estimating the life expectancy of olive flounders at around 12 years, adding, “This looks like one of the oldest (one can find).”

A 1-kilogram slice of the fish put in a detector showed 14.6 becquerels of radioactive cesium — below the 100 becquerels-per-kilogram national safety limit for regular food products. Lately the research group has found no fish, including bottom-dwelling fish like olive flounder, that exceed this limit. In addition, radiation checks done by the prefectural government find hardly any cases of fish that top the safety limit.

Riken Komatsu, 37, joint-representative for the group, says, “This is the first time for us to check such an old olive flounder, and I thought there would be dozens of becquerels detected. The result was lower than I had imagined and I feel relieved.”

Fish that were already adult at the time of the disaster, with a slowed metabolism and a narrow range of habitat, tend to show high radiation levels, Komatsu says. With time having passed since the disaster, the generational replacement of the fish in the area has moved forward. The group says the highest radiation level it has detected so far was 138 becquerels from a 56-centimeter olive flounder in July 2014.

Olive flounder caught off of Iwaki are known as “Joban-mono” and have a good reputation. There is hope among locals that the fish will regain their pre-disaster popularity.

Komatsu says, “The prefectural government and fishing cooperatives are also releasing radiation readings from fish taken off Fukushima Prefecture, but I feel there are few taken from waters near the nuclear plant. Stronger data showing the fish’s safety (like data from fish near the plant) should raise the value of Fukushima olive flounder.”


Surf clams caught in waters off Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in June

Radiation in fish off Fukushima tests below detectable level

FUKUSHIMA–Radiation in all seafood caught off Fukushima Prefecture tested below the detectable level in November for the first time since the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Species including bass, rockfish and stone flounder–sales of which were banned by the central government–were tested between Nov. 11 and Nov. 28, and the prefectural government said they all fell below the detection threshold, meaning radioactive cesium was not detected in any samples.

The main reason is that most fish species have undergone a generation change over the past five years with the contaminated marine life dying out, said officials at the prefectural government’s fisheries experimental station.

In addition, the passage of time helped fish exude radioactive cesium from their bodies.

The prefectural government began the tests in April 2011 following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant the previous month.

Forty thousand fish and shellfish samples have been checked from 186 species over the past five and a half years.

The initial tests found that more than 90 percent of the samples were contaminated with radioactive cesium above the central government’s safety limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The percentage of polluted fish and shellfish then declined annually.

The tests since April last year showed that the pollution in all samples was within the safety limit.

The monitoring covers seafood caught in 30 locations, in waters with a depth of 5 meters and at a distance of hundreds of meters from the shore, including the area in a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled plant.


December 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

83 species now eligible for test fishing off coast of Fukushima

83 species eligible 11 sept 2016.jpg

These surf clams, seen here in June at Hisanohama Port in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, were caught during test fishing.

IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture–Ten species were added to the list of catches eligible for test fishing off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, but lingering concerns about radiation are keeping sales of such marine products low.

Still, the latest additions, which include the Japanese flounder, the white-spotted conger eel and the spotted halibut, have encouraged fishermen who have been struggling to rebuild their lives since the Fukushima nuclear disaster started in March 2011.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations on Aug. 25 added the 10 species to bring the total number eligible for test fishing to 83. The additions were approved during a meeting in Iwaki of the prefectural council for the rebuilding of regional fisheries.

I think the 83 fish species accounted for about 70 percent of our pre-disaster hauls,” said Tetsu Nozaki, president of the prefectural fisheries federation. “I am placing particularly high hopes for a great boost in the value of our catches from the resumed fishing of Japanese flounder.”

Test fishing for flounder started on Sept. 2.

The Soma-Futaba fisheries cooperative association, which is part of the prefectural federation, plans to resume catches of white-spotted conger eel in September. But the Iwaki city fisheries cooperative association has decided to wait until water temperatures are low enough to ensure freshness of the white-spotted conger eel.

Test fishing has expanded because the environment of the sea has significantly improved since the initial impact of the nuclear disaster. Radioactivity levels in fish caught there now stably remain within the safety limit for many species.

Despite extensive testing to ensure safety of Fukushima marine products, many dealers are still reluctant to buy the species.

Fish and shellfish from Fukushima Prefecture are being shipped to various parts of Japan, such as the Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu and Hokuriku regions. Prices of seafood items from Fukushima Prefecture are not much lower than those from other prefectures, according to Yoshiharu Nemoto, head of the fishing ground environment division with the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries Experimental Station.

Yet few dealers are bidding for Fukushima marine products. If this trend continues with more Fukushima fish reaching the market, unsold leftovers from the prefecture could start to pile up and project a negative image, Nemoto said.

It will become more necessary than ever to make publicity efforts, such as regularly releasing data concerning safety,” he said.

Test fishing began in June 2012, 15 months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami caused the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Initially, only three species were covered: two kinds of octopuses and one type of shellfish.

While coverage has since expanded in stages, the latest addition of 10 species at one time is second only to the addition of 12 species, including brown sole and red sea bream, in August 2015.

Since April 2011, the Fukushima prefectural government has been monitoring the impact of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on fish and shellfish. The radiation tests, which cover about 200 samples every week, have so far been conducted on 38,000 samples of 184 species.

The concentration of radioactive cesium initially exceeded the central government’s safety limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram in most of the fish and shellfish surveyed. But the concentration has declined from year to year, and no sample has exceeded the safety limit since April 2015.

In more than 90 percent of the samples tested in July 2015 and later, radioactivity levels were below the detection limit.

Radioactivity levels in fish caught near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are also falling.

The central government’s Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency (FRA) on Aug. 25 released data on radioactivity levels in Japanese flounder caught in July in waters around the crippled nuclear plant.

The FRA said its high-precision tests, with a lower limit of detection set at a mere 1 becquerel per kg, found radioactivity levels of less than 10 becquerels per kg in all 41 individual organisms tested. More than 90 percent of them measured less than 5 becquerels per kg.

Catches from test fishing have continued to grow: 122 tons in 2012, 406 tons in 2013, 742 tons in 2014 and 1,512 tons in 2015.

But last year’s catch was only 5.8 percent of the annual catch of 26,050 tons averaged over the decade preceding the 2011 disaster.

Fishermen are holding out high hopes for more fish species being eligible for catches.

September 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Test fishing for flounder begins off Fukushima coast

Flounders surely vacuum well the radionuclides from the ocean floor, and the government-imposed limit of 100 becquerels per kg does no mean no contamination.

There is no such a thing as a low dose when it comes to internal radiation such as the one from ingested contaminated food.  Any radioactive contamination may cause harm.


This flounder was caught on Sept. 2 off the coast of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, during the first test fishing for the species since the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Test fishing for flounder begins off Fukushima coast

IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture–Fishermen here caught flounder for sales on Sept. 2 for the first time since the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Eleven boats equipped with dragnets left Hisanohama wharf in the morning, and they snared five of the bottom-dwelling flatfish, previously a specialty of Fukushima Prefecture.

It is a big step (for flounder fishing),” said Akira Egawa, 69, head of the Iwaki city fishery association. “We are going to recover one by one.”

On Aug. 25, 10 kinds of fish, including flounder, were added to the list for “test fishing” off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. These fish can be caught for the resumption of sales of “safe” fish.

In 2010, 734 tons of flounder were caught in Fukushima Prefecture, the third most in Japan.

The peak season for flounder fishing is around the end of October.

Japan authorizes commercial flounder ‘test-fishing’ off Fukushima

The sales of flounder caught in Fukushima Prefecture might soon resume, with fishermen already “test-fishing” for the first batches of the flatfish. The five-year-long halt in flounder fishing and sales was prompted by the deadly nuclear disaster.

On Friday fishermen caught flounder off the coast of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, during the first test fishing since the 2011 nuclear disaster, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reports. Flounder along with ten other kinds of fish was added to the list for “test-fishing” last week, meaning it is “safe” for sales.

As many as five flatfish were captured with the help of 11 boats equipped with dragnets.

It is a big step [for flounder fishing],” said Akira Egawa, head of the Iwaki city fishery association. “We are going to recover one by one.”

Following the nuclear disaster the government issued an outright ban on more than 35 kinds of fish including flounder, angler fish and rockfish which were said to contain high levels of radioactive substances.

The ban has had a huge effect on Fukushima’s fishing industry which has significantly gone down after 2011. Around 5,600 tons of fish were caught off Fukushima coast last year compared to about 38,600 tons before March, 2011.

After March 2011, 50 percent of the fish samples tested for radiation levels exceeded the government-imposed limit of 100 becquerels per kg. However, after April 2015, no fish exceeded that number, according to The Japan Times.

However, after April 2015, no fish exceeded that number, according to The Japan Times.

September 3, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s demand for seafood declines, especially among young generation: report

With all what Tepco has been dumping and leaking into the sea at Fukushima Daiichi for the past five years, no wonder the Japanese people to slow down their fish consumption.

TOKYO —Japan’s seafood consumption has declined drastically, especially among the younger generation, according to a government report released this week.

The report reveals that the total per-capita marine food consumption in the year through March 2016 had declined to 27.3 kilograms, 30% down from a peak of 40.2 kilograms in fiscal 2001, Sankei Shimbun reported.

The decreasing seafood consumption is especially prevalent among people younger than 40, who are increasingly replacing the country’s once most common food with meat, the report reveals.

Meanwhile, with the overall seafood consumption in most developing countries increasing, the report further suggests that Japan may profit from expanding its export market in the future, as a means to compensate for domestic sales decline.

A successful example, specifically mentioned in the report, was the cooperation of six seafood companies based in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, an area that was severely damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in 2001. The alignment resulted in producing a new seafood brand, which is successfully expanding export sales globally and contributing to sustaining the Sanriku area’s overall financial growth.

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

FIVE YEARS AFTER: Fukushima fishermen still struggle to prove catches are safe


Fishermen unload their catch in experimental operations from a boat anchored at the Matsukawaura fishing port in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Fukushima fishermen have been stuck in a vicious circle over the past five years. Whenever a glimmer of hope arises that they can resume normal operations, something happens at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that quashes the optimism.
“Just when we thought the fishing environment had progressed one step forward, it would take a step back,” said Yukio Sato, a 56-year-old fisherman. “The past five years have been such a forward and back zigzag.”
Although radioactivity levels in their catches have fallen considerably, the fishermen are still struggling to convince consumers that the fish are safe to eat.
Any leak of radioactive water from the Fukushima No. 1 plant–and there have been many–into the Pacific Ocean reinforces the negative image of Fukushima fish.
The catches have dropped in size, prices have plummeted and some fishermen are now giving up hopes of making a living from the fishing grounds.
Sato used to take his fishing trawler out five days a week.
But fishermen in the prefecture were forced to suspend operations immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Radiation levels exceeding national standards were detected in the fish they caught.
“We could not catch the fish that we knew were swimming in those waters,” Sato said. “It was just so frustrating.”
Sato now takes his fishing trawler out twice a week.
The waters off Fukushima Prefecture are bountiful because two currents collide there. Close to 200 different types of fish can be caught in those waters.
In early February, Sato’s boat and other trawlers returned to the Matsukawaura fishing port in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, carrying Pacific cod, monkfish, snow crab and other fish.
Sato’s catch totaled about 500 kilograms, and the fish were sent to local shops as well as the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.
“It would be great if we could return to the fishing of the past while I am still alive,” Sato said.
The catch from the coastal waters is still only about 6 percent of the levels before the nuclear accident.
In June 2012, more than year after the triple meltdown at the nuclear plant, experimental operations started to determine the market reaction to fish considered safe in terms of radioactivity levels.
Despite that effort, problems with radiation-contaminated water flowing into the Pacific continued.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, is still facing difficulties bringing the water problem under control. Every day, tons of groundwater flow under the Fukushima plant and become contaminated with radiation.
At one time, TEPCO came up with a plan to pump up the groundwater and dump it into the ocean before it could reach the plant.
Local fishermen opposed the plan because even dumping safe water into the Pacific would hurt the image of the fish caught in coastal waters.
But if such measures were not taken, the volume of contaminated water could increase to levels that would make it impossible to process.
In March 2014, the fishermen reluctantly agreed to the water bypass plan.
However, a year later, contaminated rainwater spilled outside the port waters. TEPCO’s failure to immediately disclose that problem refueled general concerns about contaminated water.
Other measures have since been taken to deal with the contaminated water, but according to one individual in the fishing industry, “No matter what is done, only the negative image that arises from that time is highlighted.”
Fishermen now depend on compensation from TEPCO for their daily livelihoods. Even those who are not engaged in experimental operations receive compensation equivalent to about 80 percent of their actual catch before the nuclear accident.
With no prospects for a resumption of full-scale operations, some fishermen are not bothering to take part in the experimental operations.
The radioactivity levels in the water and fish have steadily declined.
Three months after the nuclear accident started, half of the fish sampled had radioactivity levels exceeding the national standard of 100 becquerels per kg.
In 2015, 8,500 samples were tested; only four exceeded the national standard.
The decline in radioactivity levels has led to an expansion in the types of fish that can be caught through experimental operations, from three to 72.
While a simple comparison is not possible because the catch level in Fukushima is so low, fish caught through experimental operations fetch between 80 and 90 percent of the prices paid for the same fish types caught in other prefectures.
“With the brand image having fallen so low, it would not be profitable even if operations were allowed to expand,” said Takashi Niitsuma, 56, an official with the Iwaki city fisheries cooperative.
Fish caught further out to sea are also affected. Regardless of where the fish are caught, if they are brought to Fukushima ports, they are classified as being from Fukushima. That has led fishermen to avoid anchoring at Fukushima ports.
According to Fukushima prefectural government officials dealing with the fishing industry, about 5,600 tons of fish, excluding those caught in coastal waters, were brought into Fukushima ports in 2014. The figure is only 40 percent of the pre-nuclear accident level.
The Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium in Iwaki holds monthly events to show that fish caught off Fukushima are safe. At one recent event, a fat greenling was placed in a device to measure radiation levels while visitors looked on. A message flashed on a screen: “None detected.”
“Fish born after the nuclear accident will never exceed the central government’s standard,” said Seiichi Tomihara, 43, a veterinarian at the aquarium.
Local residents are involved in the project to dispel doubts about the trustworthiness of information provided by TEPCO and the central government.
“I first of all want people to understand the fact that the waters off Fukushima are steadily recovering,” Tomihara said.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment