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Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano. (Photo: YouTube/TelLieVision2/Stock File/FIS)

Fishers halt operations, compensation demanded

Click on the flag for more information about Japan JAPAN
Thursday, April 07, 2011, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

Fishers in Ibaraki prefecture have suspended 96 per cent of fishing operations due to detections of radioactive sand lance (or launce) in nearby waters and some say they should receive compensation.

The damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima prefecture continue to release radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean and have led to excessive levels of cesium contamination in fish.

“The action may be undermining the whole fishing industry in Japan,” said Ikuhiro Hattori, chairman for the National Federation of Fisheries Co-Operative Associations.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said fishers affected by the nuclear crisis should receive provisional compensation, reports Kyodo News.

A fishing industry group in Fukushima has asked the company responsible for the damaged reactors, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), to find a way to keep more toxic water from pouring into the sea.

"Our prefecture's fishermen have lost their lives, fishing boats, piers and buildings due to the Great Eastern Japan Disaster," Federation Chairman Tetsu Nozaki wrote in a utility a letter of protest, The Associated Press reports. "This low-level contaminated water has raised fears among fishermen that they will never be able to fish in our prefecture's waters again, and we absolutely want you to stop." 

Ibaraki fishers were already struggling as they worked to recover from the earthquake and tsunami that hit on 11 March and had managed to resume operations, said Tomoki Mashiko, assistant director at the fishing policy division of the prefectural government, reports Bloomberg

In 2008, the prefecture produced 191,010 tonnes of fish worth USD 234 million, or 3.4 per cent of the country’s output, according to government figures.

“We expect Tokyo Electric to treat fishermen in the same way as it prepares to compensate farmers for their lost sales because of radioactive contamination,” Mashiko stated. “The prefecture will increase monitoring of marine products for radioactivity and decide which area and what type of fish are safe for commercial operations.”

TEPCO said it may give USD 12,000 to each household located near its broken Fukushima Daiichi power plant as a preliminary compensation payment probably by late April.

Sand lance caught off Ibaraki showed cesium levels of 526 Bq per kg compared to Japan’s health ministry standard of 500 Bq, data from the prefecture showed. Sand lance caught off Hirakata showed 4,080 Bq per kg of iodine-131, whereas the government’s radioactive iodine standard for fish is 2,000 Bq per kg.

In the interim, businesses continue to remove Japanese seafood from their menus due to radiation concerns. 

“Increased discovery of contaminated foods sapped consumer appetite for products made in Fukushima and surrounding areas,” said Takaki Shigemoto, commodity analyst at Tokyo-based JSC Corp. “Demand is shifting to foods from western Japan and overseas.”

India as already halted Japanese food imports for three months or until “credible information” on the radiation hazard is available, the health ministry informed. Additionally, Britain, China, Singapore and Hong Kong have banned some specific food items from Japan.

Related articles:

- More countries ban Japanese seafood imports 

- Radioactive fish lead to first legal limits for radiation in seafood 

- Fishing and restaurant sectors see ongoing drop in business 

By Natalia Real



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