Fishermen in Fukushima’s Soma city resume "asari" clam fishing after 6-year hiatus

21 April 2016

Fishing for "asari" Japanese littleneck clams in Matsukawaura, a lagoon off Soma city, Fukushima Prefecture, was resumed on April 20, ending a self-imposed ban in place since the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The first asari haul in six years enlivened a local port.

A total of 25 fishermen from the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association set sail on 10 boats shortly after 8 a.m. Clad in waterproof pants fitted with boots, they used long-handled dredges to scoop the shellfish. Their combined catch of the day was about 300 kilograms, equivalent to a daily target on one voyage.

The haul was subjected to screening for radioactive substances, but none was detected, according to the association. The clams are left alone to allow them to discharge sand and other impurities before shipment to supermarkets and restaurants on and after the following day.

The central government has not instructed local fishermen to refrain from asari fishing since the disaster, but the association will regard the restart as "test fishing" in light of consumer concerns over radioactive contamination of the seashell species. Fishing will be conducted once a week through August.

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

(Translated by Kyodo News)