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10,000 young salmon discharged into Fukushima river

April 16, 2015


Juvenile salmon released to keep spawning cycle alive in a Fukushima river




TOMIOKA, Fukushima Prefecture--Although all residents of Tomioka remain evacuated due to the nuclear accident, a local fishermen’s union is ensuring that salmon don't disappear from a local river here as well.

On April 15, union members, along with employees of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., and companies engaged in decontamination work, released juvenile salmon into the Tomiokagawa river for the first time since the March 2011 disaster.

They discharged a total of about 10,000 young salmon into the waters of the river.

According to the fishermen’s union, it released about 800,000 juvenile salmon annually into the river before the nuclear accident. Of these, about 1,600 salmon had been thought to have returned to the river to spawn.

However, the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which occurred on March 11, 2011, destroyed the spawning grounds where their eggs hatched. The annual release of the juvenile salmon was also suspended.

Young salmon that were released before the disaster continued to return to the river until 2014. However, the number of salmon that return is expected to decrease.

In response, the fishermen’s union resumed the release so the cycle will continue.

At present, all Tomioka residents are living in other municipalities as evacuees following the nuclear accident, triggered by the earthquake and tsunami.

When the tsunami engulfed the town, the union’s leader, Isao Igari, then 73, was swept away and remains missing. His son Kiyomi, 50, is currently serving as the leader of the union.

“My father was looking forward to releasing juvenile salmon with children,” Kiyomi said, adding, “I am looking forward to seeing children return to this town and make it bustling again.”

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