Wednesday, July 6, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Katsuo (Skipjack Tuna) Haul Is Zero at Onahama Port in Fukushima

Katsuo (shipjack tuna) is in season, and in a normal year the port of Onahama, Fukushima Prefecture should be bustling with activities, with fishing boats hauling katsuo they caught into the port, noisy auctioning by the wholesalers.

This year is anything but normal, and the amount of the haul at the Onahama port is zero. Zero.

Where are the fishing boats loaded with katsuo going? Other ports, so that the katsuo that they catch off the coast of Fukushima and all along the Pacific North can be sold as coming anywhere but from Fukushima.

(In other words, watch out, consumers.)

From Yomiuri Shinbun (7/7/2011):


The Onahama Port in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, the biggest port in Fukushima Prefecture and one of the best known port for hauling katsuo (shipjack tuna) in the Tohoku region, finds itself in difficult times.

 カツオ漁が最盛期を迎えた中、津波で被害を受けて3週間前に再開した魚市場への漁船によるカツオの水揚げはゼロ。東京電力福島第一原発事故の影響 で「福島産」とみなされるのを心配して、漁船が同港での水揚げを避けて他県に向かうためだ。「漁場は同じなのに……」。地元漁業関係者の苦悩が続く。

It's the prime season for katsuo fishing right now, but the katsuo hauling at the port, which reopened three weeks ago for the first time since the March 11 tsunami, is zero. It's because fishing boats head for other ports in other prefectures, fearful that their catch will be considered "caught in Fukushima Prefecture", a big negative in the aftermath of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The local fishery people lament, "katsuo all come from the same fishery...."


Katsuo fishing, which chases katsuo as the fish migrate north along the Pacific coast from spring to summer, started in earnest in May. Now it's in the prime season. However, at the wholesale fish market at the Onahama Port, all is quiet, and fish baskets remain empty.


"In a normal year, the place is chaotic with wholesalers and fish market personnel, bustling with activities," Mr. Satoshi Nakano, 35-year-old worker at the market, sighs.


According to Japan's Fisheries Agency, 2,420 tonnes of fresh katsuo were hauled at the port in 2009, No. 5 in the whole country. The local fishing co-op says 70% of the haul was from the out-of-Fukushima fish boats.

There have been anecdotal but credible "rumors" for about two months that there are unusual increases of unusual kind of fish in ports outside Fukushima - Tokyo's Tsukiji Port, and a port in Mie Prefecture for example. The rumors say the boats are catching fish off the coast of Fukushima and hauling them at a distant port, and the fish are being sold as "caught in the ocean near that port", which is perfectly legal.

And what about the remaining 30% of the fishing boats that are from Fukushima Prefecture? A group of fishing boats left the Onahama Port for katsuo fishing last month, but they've given up on hauling to the Onahama Port due to the "baseless rumor" of radiation contamination, according to Tokyo Shinbun.

The authorities seem to want to keep it "baseless rumor" by not testing. At this point, even if they start to test, no consumer will readily believe the official numbers.


@ortospace said...

Big stores seem to care about consumers worries on "baseless rumours".
My case: I use to shop at Daiei. Since weeks I can find fish that I never found before: Korean tuna, lots of American fish (fresh and frozen), and in some cases you see labels like "coming from xxx prefecture, but catched in Indian/Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, etc...".
The problem now is how frequent mislabeling is, but that's another story...

The worrisome thing on katsuo is that if contaminated it will in turn contaminate through katsuobushi and dashi basically all Japanese recipes for long years.
Other curious things: I now found American celery. Never saw it before 3/11. Despite the crisis and what I would assume on market mechanisms, it's still cheaper than domestic (Chiba-ken-san) celery!? wtf? Or broccoli: Fukushima-ken-san: 158 jpy, Amerika-san: 98 jpy!? wtf?

Anonymous said...

How to stay away from shaved bonito now? They top so much stuff with it. Reminds of the very wise saying...don't crap where you eat.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@ortospace, thanks for reminding me. Katsuobushi added to my ever-growing hoarding list. What's on the market right now must be from last year. (Anon at 6:39PM, I think bonito's safe for this year.) Interesting info on Daiei super. Broccoli is cheaper there than here!

@ortospace said...

If you're interested, today I took a pic of the label of "Shizuoka-ken-san tuna, caught in Atlantic Ocean".
Btw, that means that before they were kinda mislabeling by just saying Shizuoka-ken-san; I never remember seeing cited Atlantic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea in the labels... it's also true that I wasn't paying attention like now.
Anyway, now grateful to Daiei for that extra specification (don't know if they're required by law to specify where fish has been caught).
And trusting they don't mislabel...

Anonymous said...

I have a saying.
If people survived in prison camp or GUlags for decades on shittwather for dinner, you as a human begin can live for a long time on simple food.
Like vegi/grainsup or simple meals.

To worry about colestrole or others are hyped scearmongering and targeting the "live for ever myth".

We are like the Seaguls, capable of surviving on almoust anything.

Are you not certain, dont eat it.
A simple rule of thumbs.

Anonymous said...

I believe most people around the world knew that they, the Japanese would pull something like this !!!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it curious timing that our evil rulers are starting a ridiculous new advertising campaign calling Tuna the "Wonderfish"? Methinks the big 3 tuna packers (Bumble Bee, Starkist, Chicken of the Sea) are running scared over this world crime against Japan, and spending oodles on a wholly spurious propaganda campaign telling simps how healthy tuna is.

In the TV ads (and the website) Joy, the corporate bimbo-shill prances around in a new-retro kitchen surrounded by Spanish dancers and gushes on about how wonderful tuna is for your heart and eyes, etc.

But Joy - what about the MERCURY and the PLUTONIUM?!!?!?

We should start a counter-campaign called "TUNA: THE MONSTERFISH!"

(and to the Anonymous clown above me who said "the Japanese would pull something like this," eat LOTS and LOTS of tuna, chump!)

Anonymous said...

Tuna is a wonderfish all right, fished to extinction is TRUE threat.

They're said to be marvelously evolved for their environment. That didn't include trawling fleets.

Anonymous said...

i used to live near daiei and i remember the amrerican brocolli cheaper than japanese.i still never bought it.always considered what they would have to spray on the stuff to ship it..same with lots of imported foods. i wonder what is worse.

Post a Comment