Monday, June 18, 2018

Japan sells first fish caught since nuclear crisis

The first seafood caught off Japan's Fukushima coastline since last year's nuclear disaster went on sale Monday, but the offerings were limited to octopus and marine snails because of persisting fears about radiation.

Octopus and whelk, a kind of marine snail, were chosen for the initial shipments because testing for radioactive cesium measured no detectable amounts, according to the Fukushima prefectural fishing cooperative.

Flounder, sea bass and other fish from Fukushima can't be sold yet because of contamination. It was unclear when they will be approved for sale as they measure above the limit in radiation set by the government.

"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 the octopus that had been shipped to the store.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year left the coastlines of northeastern Japan devastated, and displaced tens of thousands of people. Entire towns were contaminated by the radiation leaking from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, where three reactors went into meltdowns.

"I was filled with both uncertainty and hope today, but I was so happy when I found out the local supermarket had sold out by 3 p.m.," said Hirofumi Konno, an official in charge of sales at the fishing cooperative in Soma city in coastal Fukushima.

He said he hoped crabs would be next to go on sale as radiation had not been detected in them, but he acknowledged things will take time, perhaps years, especially for other kinds of fish. Radiation amounts have been decreasing, but cesium lasts years.

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