Fishing resumes but fate of farm animals unknown


TOKYO (majirox news) – Japanese fishermen resumed fishing off the Ibaraki coast in Japan on April 15 and shipped their products to Tsukiji’s fish market in central Tokyo. The products sold at nearly market prices.

Concerns about radioactive fish had caused sales to plunge at fish markets throughout Japan since an earthquake and tsunami knocked out power at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on March 11, causing radioactive material to spew into the air and sea.

As a result, fishermen off the Ibaraki coast could not trade with middlemen at the fish markets and have refused to fish since April 5.

Radioactive material was found in tiny kounago fish (sand lance) on April 4. Radioactive iodine of up to 4,800 times the legal limit was detected in the sea near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Caesium was found at levels above safety limits for koungo off the cost of Ibaraki, south of Fukushima.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), many types of fish, including flounder and conger eel, passed an inspection and were safe.

“I was waiting for the Ibaraki fish to come because it is safe and I wanted to sell a lot of it,” Kenji Ando, a fish wholesaler in Tokyo, told the Japanese media.

Tomonari Hamada, who owns a small fish market in Tokyo, said, “The rumors about radiation in the fish is hurting and the demand for fish is falling.”

For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010, the fishery industry in Fukushima prefecture was 16 billion yen ($188 million), Ibaraki prefecture at 13.8 billion yen ($162 million) and Chiba prefecture at 29.9 billion ($352 million). According to MAFF, 111 fishing ports in Iwate prefecture, 142 in Miyagi prefecture and 10 in Fukushima prefecture are in ruins.

The indoor farming community within the 20 to 30 km evacuation zone of the Fukushima plant cannot continue their businesses.

According to MAFF, to date, 13,745 cows, 44,340 pigs and 1.9 million chickens are in the area. Moreover, Japan recently extended the evacuation zone to more than 30 km, which could cause the numbers to increase. The government has not given any details about what they plan to do with the animals.

The prefectures affected by the problems at the Fukushima plant will lose revenue of their food products.

“People aren’t buying food from those areas,” said Michiko Yamada, a local grocer in Tokyo. “We just can’t sell them.”

In fiscal year ended March 31, 2010, combined sales of milk, some vegetables and mushrooms in Fukushima was 16.7 billion yen ($196 million); Ibaraki prefecture was 24.1 billion yen ($293 million); Tochigi prefecture was 2.7 billion yen ($32 million); Gunma prefecture was 7.0 billion yen ($82 million); and Chiba was 16.6 billion yen ($195 million). These are now banned because of unsafe radiation levels.

Countries such as China, Australia, the United States, Singapore and the European Union have limited and restricted Japanese food imports.

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