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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Fukushima carps all right?

August 8, 2012


Fukushima carp breeders strive to regain No. 1 spot



FUKUSHIMA--Carp breeders in Fukushima Prefecture--once the nation's No. 1 source of cultivated carp--have been struggling since the outbreak of the nuclear crisis last year due to consumers' fears of radiation.

The prefecture led the nation in carp shipments for seven consecutive years from 2004. In the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, however, shipments dropped to 705 tons in 2011, a 35 percent decrease over the previous year and yielding the No. 1 position to Ibaraki Prefecture.

Tests for radioactive substances have confirmed the carp's safety, but many consumers remain anxious. To further promote the safety of their fish, therefore, Fukushima producers have changed how they cultivate carp so the fish will not inhale dirt at the bottom of their pool.

"If our carp don't sell, we'll have to pay more for feed and our business will suffer," said Sumiyuki Kumada, 69, president of fisheries company Kumada Suisan. Kumada's firm is the largest in Koriyama, the center of cultivated carp in Fukushima Prefecture.

Kumada Suisan's shipments dropped by 40 percent in 2011 from the previous year.

Hiroshi Tomizawa, 74, vice chairman of the Ken-nan cultivated carp fisheries cooperative of major eight carp producers, said anxiously, "We can't relieve our clients' anxiety, even by explaining the test results for radioactive substances."

The union has decided to adopt a new cultivation method that prevents carp from swimming near the bottom of cultivation pools where there is dirt, as consumers are nervous about dirt being ingested by carp. The new method floats a net in a pool and lets carp swim only in that net.

It costs several million yen to adopt the new method, which also requires the troublesome supply of oxygen to carp that swim in crowded, narrow spaces.

"We can't sit idly by," Tomizawa said. "We'll aggressively promote the fact that our carp are safe."

Kumada said, "I think making Koriyama's carp No. 1 in Japan again will lead to regaining consumers' confidence in the food produced in Fukushima Prefecture."

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