Tokyo reopens fishing in contaminated waters in Fukushima

As well as reptile and amphibian species being recorded in the northern Japanese region, songbirds are seen Japan has re-opened fishing in contaminated waters surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant more than three years after…

Tokyo reopens fishing in contaminated waters in Fukushima

As well as reptile and amphibian species being recorded in the northern Japanese region, songbirds are seen

Japan has re-opened fishing in contaminated waters surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant more than three years after its worst nuclear disaster in its postwar history.

As many as 20 fish species were first spotted in the waterway in November, with some 30,000 fish turned up in the region by the end of December, the fisheries ministry said.

A few months after the 2011 disaster, contaminated water seeped into the local ocean and fields, triggering a spill that contaminated crops.

Since July 2017, fishermen have been allowed to fish in eight areas around the plant’s affected “megaproject area”, and nine off the coast of the same facility.

Growing numbers of birds spotted and photographed in the area in the autumn included a North American parrot, a California harbor seal and eight birds from Mexico’s Gulf coast.

Fisheries department spokesman Ildo Kaneta said: “The idea is to make the water in the plant area suitable for fishing. Fish become available after autumn.”

There have been documented sightings of endangered sea turtles from Vietnam and a chimaera, a species of non-narcotic snake common in southern Japan.

The ministry has come under fire over the decision to open fishing again, as local fishermen including one man who once worked with the decommissioned reactor have said they have not been adequately consulted.

Local fishermen also object to the repeated breaches of the area’s closure orders, after one ban in August 2017 was breached a week later.

Kaneta, however, said the breach did not suggest there had been any negligence on the part of fishermen. “It’s understandable that fishermen are complaining but there have been no unforeseen problems detected.”

Environmental activists who are visiting the area have said they have never seen wildlife here in such numbers.

“Many of the summer isles in the most contaminated regions remain unspoiled,” said Mami Takahashi of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. “In Fukushima, though, endangered species are certainly abundant.”

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