2012-06-25. Fears Accompany Fishermen in Japanese Disaster Region

posted Jun 27, 2012, 12:22 PM by Lisa Ou
 | by Hiroko Tabuchi, The NY Times. An article relevant to GSS Energy Use chapter 4. Excerpt: The catch from six small fishing boats, the first to resume commercial fishing in the waters off Fukushima since last year’s nuclear catastrophe, went on sale at local supermarkets on Monday, raising hopes and concerns in a region struggling to return to something like normal. For now, the catch is limited to octopus and whelk, a type of sea snail, because those species are thought to trap fewer radioactive particles in their bodies. What that means for sea life is far from clear. But the fishermen’s hope to resume working the waters they fished for decades is causing unease all around. Experts say the effects of the disaster on the ocean are still not fully understood. Hours before the boats set out, the central government hastily banned Fukushima’s fishermen from selling 36 types of fish other than octopus and whelk. Until then, there had been no explicit ban on fishing near Fukushima, because the region’s fishermen had voluntarily suspended work after the tsunami and nuclear disaster. In return, they have received about $125 million from the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power…Away from the immediate area of the plant, the radiation is too diffuse to pose an immediate risk to human health, but experts worry that radioactive material will accumulate in the marine food chain. Radiation levels in some fish exceed the government’s safety limits of 100 becquerels a kilogram, including one bottom-dwelling poacher fish that registered 690 becquerels a kilogram in April. But other sea produce show negligible radiation readings, including octopus and sea snails caught by fishermen from Soma…Still, local residents said it was a milestone for a vital source of food and employment in the region.... Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/world/asia/fears-accompany-fishermen-in-japanese-disaster-region.html