Fishermen in Fukushima’s Soma city to restart catching “asari” clams

17 March 2016

The Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association is considering resuming fishing of “asari” clams (also known as Japanese littleneck) in Matsukawaura, a lagoon off Soma city, ending a self-imposed ban in place since the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The move was given the go-ahead at a meeting of the association’s test fishing committee held in the city on March 18. It is subject to approval by related organizations, including a group of the heads of fisheries cooperatives in the prefecture scheduled to meet on March 29. If approved, the association intends to restart asari fishing soon.

Surveys by the prefectural government and other parties concerned have found that radioactive cesium content in soil on the seabed and in aquatic organisms in Matsukawaura has been on the decline. Piles of debris left in Matsukawaura by a massive tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake have been removed. The association hopes to enliven regional fisheries by restarting the catch of asari, a symbol of the lagoon.

The central government has not instructed local fishermen to refrain from asari fishing since the disaster, but the association will regard the planned restart as “test fishing” in light of consumer concerns over radioactive contamination of the seashell species.

Matsukawaura used to be crowded with people seeking to gather asari before the disaster. There is no prospect in sight of tideland in the lagoon being restored as a shellfish-digging beach because its recovery work has not made headway.

(Translated by Kyodo News)