Monday, June 25, 2012

Japan sells first Fukushima fish after the nuclear crisis

It's been over a year now, and the first seafood caught off Japan's Fukushima coastline since last year's nuclear disaster went on sale Monday.
The sales were limited to octopus and marine snails because of the ongoing fears about radiation.
Octopus and whelk, (marine snail) were being sold because testing for radioactive cesium consistently measured no detectable amounts. They were caught Friday and boiled so they last longer while being tested for radiation before they could be sold Monday.

Flounder, sea bass and other fish from Fukushima can't be sold yet because of contamination. 
"It was crisp when I bit into it, and it tasted so good," said Yasuhiro Yoshida, who oversees the seafood section at York Benimaru supermarket in Soma, which sold out of about 65 pounds of the snails and 90 pounds of octopus.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year left the coastlines of northeastern Japan devastated, and displaced tens of thousands of people. 
There is some hope now that things will improve, and that crabs would be next to go on sale as radiation had not been detected in them.
But there is a realization  that improvement will take time, perhaps years, especially for other kinds of fish.
Radiation amounts have been decreasing, but cesium lasts years.
The octopus and snail were selling at almost half of what they fetched before the disaster, he said. But he said people were buying Fukushima seafood to show support for local fishermen. 

Nobuyuki Yagi, a University of Tokyo professor studying the fisheries industry after the disaster, said serious concerns remain over whether anyone would buy Fukushima fish, and the key lay in finding the types of fish that don't store radioactive elements.

As the fishing industry takes small improvement steps, farmlands have also been contaminated, and every grain of rice will be tested at harvest in some areas before they can be sold. The image of Fukushima produce has been badly damaged and worried consumers are avoiding Fukushima-grown food.