Fukushima fishing industry suffers years after nuclear disaster

World Today

A man prays to mourn for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami prior to a special memorial event in Tokyo, Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Fishermen have been among the hardest hit following the meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant six years ago.

CGTN’s Terrence Terashima reports from Iwaki City.

News of contaminated water spills have been reported a number of times out of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. The news sometimes has been passed on and exaggerated, triggering more rumors.

Over the past six years, fishermen in Fukushima had suffered greatly. Those in this port in Iwaki City, about 40 kilometers south from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, are just one example.

The fishermen were driven further out, restricted in areas where they could fish. They have lost income and trust as the public continues to be haunted by the possible leakage of contaminated water from the plant.

Fishermen were only able to operate on basis of “test-fishing,” monitoring the safety of the fish in the coast of Fukushima.

In February 2017, the local government and local fishing federation decided to narrow down the restricted zone to within a 10-kilometer radius of the crippled nuclear plant from the current 20 kilometers. This is the first step towards full operation in the future, and will hopefully lead to more sales of their catch.

Local authorities said over 8,500 fish and shellfish samples were tested in 2016. All of them recorded radioactivity readings under the safety standard of 100 Becquerel per kilogram.

Even so, many of the fishermen did not take the news lightly. Many were happy to converse, but when it came to fishing, silence followed. The test fishing would only allow the fishermen to catch eight-percent of what they used to.

Local fishermen know that as long as the crippled nuclear power plant exist, there will always be fears and rumors of contaminated water leaks. They have said they can only take it step-by-step, and hope for the best.