While fishing ports and other infrastructure in Fukushima Prefecture have made progress toward recovery, the area still suffers from a negative reputation.
The coastal area off Ibaraki and Fukushima Prefectures, where the Oyashio and Kuroshio Currents meet in the Pacific Ocean, is an excellent fishing ground. The seafood caught in this area became known as Jōban-mono and was prized by professional chefs and Tsukiji Market connoisseurs. However, the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake had a profound effect on the local fishing industry, when it caused a tsunami that destroyed all the fishing ports and led to an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that damaged the reputation of the waters.
According to Fukushima Prefecture sea-fishing industry statistics, the total catch in 2010 stood at 38,600 tons, before plummeting in 2011. While fishing ports and other infrastructure have steadily recovered since, catches remain low. In 2018, 5,900 tons of fish were caught, equivalent to only 15% of the volume prior to the earthquake. This was worth ¥796 million, or only 7.3% of the ¥11.0 billion generated in 2010. (Aggregated data for 2019 is due to be released later in March 2020.)
After the nuclear accident, the fishing industry in Fukushima came to a standstill for approximately one year. Then, in June 2012, trial fishing operations began. Currently, there are still no catches within a 10-kilometer radius of the Daiichi plant and any made outside that area are subject to prefectural inspections for radioactive materials, alongside inspections by the fishing cooperatives themselves, in order to ensure safety. Although there have been zero cases of results for prefectural inspections outside acceptable levels for more than four years, the area’s negative reputation remains, so full recovery in the fishing industry is yet to be seen.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner Image ©Jiji)