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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