Money Matters - Simplified

First Fukushima seafood hits markets since nuclear crisis

Fukushima Prefecture-based octopus and shellfish was sold at two supermarkets in Soma. It was a trial sale primarily a test to check for the market demand

Apart from the devastating human toll, the earthquake and corresponding tsunami in Japan last March severely damaged the nation’s vibrant seafood market.

For the first time since the nuclear crisis, some type of seafood caught off the Fukushima coast is being offered for sale to local markets after successfully passing radiation tests.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations has decided to resume sale of two types of octopus and one type of shellfish for now.

Yasunobu Matsui, a government food safety official stated, “We are not opposed to fishermen in Fukushima starting to fish again, if they can show that what they are catching does not contain high levels of radiation. We just don’t want them to make a mistake and catch the wrong kind.”

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations has decided to resume sale of two types of octopus and one type of shellfish for now.

Seafood tested for radioactive contamination
A fleet of six trawlers caught 500 kg of squid and shellfish off the coast of Soma.

The seafood was boiled so they last longer while being tested for radioactive caesium. Since no contamination was detected in the test, the cooperative deemed the marine food safe for consumption.

"We can offer the products with assurance because we've conducted our own testing," said a senior York Benimaru official in charge of fresh fish products. "We'd like to lend a hand as it marks the first step toward recovering the fishing industry in Fukushima Prefecture."

Trial sale
Fukushima Prefecture-based octopus and shellfish was sold at two supermarkets in Soma. It was a trial sale primarily a test to check for the market demand.

The cost of the seafood was 40 per cent cheaper than the previous year’s market price. The local supermarket had sold out the supply by 3 pm.

For the trial run, Octopus and snail had been chosen as they came out clean of any radioactive substances after thorough testing. Crabs may be the next to hit shelves. In contrast, flounder, sea bass and other local fish like tuna may still not be safe for consumption.

The association plans to sell the Fukushima offerings outside the prefecture after another fishing trail on Wednesday.

"I was determined to buy (the seafood) today. We must give help to the local industry. I will eat them as sashimi," said 63-year-old Mitsuru Tokura who bought two packs of octopus.