This year’s seafood haul off Fukushima tops 2015 level

The amount of seafood caught through test fishing operations in Pacific waters off Fukushima Prefecture so far this year has already exceeded the annual total for 2015. According to the local government and the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, this year’s catches of fish, seashells and seaweed as of Sept. 22 totaled 1,596 tons on a preliminary basis, climbing past 1,512 tons in the whole of last year. The 2015 total was the largest since the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Seafood catches have been on the rise since test fishing started in 2012. The 2016 total so far already surpassed the previous year’s annual haul in nine months. The Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association accounted for 1,423 tons of this year’s total and two fisheries cooperatives in Iwaki city hauled the remaining 173 tons. The prefectural government attributes the growing haul to increases in the number of fishermen and fish species involved. The number of boats that went on fishing operations was only nine in 2012, the year after the disaster, but soared to 1,032 by July this year. The number of fish species covered has also jumped to 83 from only three at the start. But the level of catches remains low compared with pre-disaster hauls. Even the 2016 figure is less than 10% of the 2010 total. The local fisheries industry will have to redouble efforts toward the resumption of full-fledged operations, seeking to dispel harmful rumors, restoring lost sales channels and developing new ones. The prefectural government’s tests on radioactive cesium content in seafood conducted in 2015 showed that maximum measurements of all samples -- 8,541 items of 130 species -- were below the Food Sanitation Act standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram. (Translated by Kyodo News)