Japan Fishing Industry Concern: Exact Route to Contaminated Sea Water Near Fukushima Daiichi Plant Unknown

A spike in radioactive iodine—to 1,250 times the legal limit—has been observed in sea water near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants on Saturday. No immediate threat to human health or the area environment is expected, since the radioactive material is reportedly expected to quickly dissipate in tides and would become diluted before reaching fish and seaweed. Additionally, there is a wide evacuation order in the area that prohibits fishing.

The exact cause of the rise of radiation level in the sea water is not known. Radiation that surged into the air could have fallen onto water that drained into the sea.

The fishing industry in Japan has long been one of its most vital resources. Japan has relied on the fishermen and the fishery resources as the major source of animal protein for the population of Japan. Fishing is also a popular livelihood for the population of Japanese living in and around the main islands of Japan as well as the outer islands.

Two of the largest fishing companies in Japan are Nippon Suisan Kaisha and Maruha Nichiro; each employs over 10,000 people and owns subsidiaries around the world.

The Japanese coastal fishing industry provides tens of millions of dollars a year to Iwate fishermen, compared with the estimated $300 billion damage in what is probably the world’s costliest natural disaster. The Iwate prefecture took the brunt of the devastating Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. The tsunami devastated the fishing industry — destroying boats, ports, and fishing environments. Abalone, sea urchins, oysters, scallops and seaweed, according to the local government, accounts for 80 percent of the revenue for local fisheries.

Radiation concerns may also hinder buyers who are afraid of health risks. Long term sea urchins, abalones and other species in the area could be contaminated. Monitoring for radioactive levels will be necessary.