Ban lifted on "himemasu" salmon fishing at Fukushima lake after 4-year hiatus

10 April 2016

Fishing of "himemasu" kokanee salmon, a landlocked variety of sockeye salmon, was resumed at Lake Numazawa in the town of Kaneyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on April 9 after a four-year ban imposed in the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Officials concerned with fishing at the lake, the only place in Fukushima to have the particular breed of freshwater salmon, are pinning high hopes on the resumption of himemasu fishing as an opportunity to increase tourism in the remote town nestled in a mountain range.

Shortly after 5:30 a.m., countless lines were dropped onto the bluish lake surface. Mitsukatsu Sato, a 73-year-old angler from Motomiya city, Fukushima Prefecture, said he came to the lake for the first time in five years since the nuclear disaster. "I was looking forward to this day," he said with a smile. Boasting a decade-long record of himemasu fishing, Sato caught more than 30 fish by noon. "Sashimi (sliced raw fish) tastes like 'toro' (fatty tuna). I'll come every day."

After the nuclear accident, radioactive cesium content exceeding the maximum allowable level of 100 becquerels per kilogram set by the Food Sanitation Act was found from himemasu samples and fishing was banned in April 2012. But no sample has surpassed the standard since August 2014, prompting the prefectural government to withdraw its request for voluntary ban and leading a local fisheries cooperative to lift the ban. The current himemasu fishing season continues until Sept. 30.

(Translated by Kyodo News)