Japanese tsunami hits fisheries
A Sailor assigned to Naval Air Facility Misawa carries debris to a dumpsite during a cleanup effort at the Misawa Fishing Port. Credit: US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devon Dow
Japan’s devastating tsunami on 11 March has been reported to have driven fish away.
On the day of the tsunami, Mexican fishermen reported a stellar fishing day and it is being reported that the tsunami drove fish in their direction. Thousands of sardines, anchovies, stripped bass and mackerel surged along the coast of Acapulco, packed so tightly that they looked like an oil slick from above.
Delighted fishermen rushed out in wooden motor boats to scoop the fish up in buckets.
The fishermen attributed the strange phenomenon to the unusual currents unleashed by the tsunami, but experts couldn't be sure.
"It would fall into that category where you would love to make the connection, but who knows?' Rich Briggs, a geologist with the US Geological Survey.
Sadly, the tsunami has wiped out fishing harbours and ports – and not just in Japan.
In Japan, the port of Minamisanriku was destroyed and Misawa was devastated. The fishing hub Ofunato was also badly hit, as was the fishing town of Rikuzentakata, and Hakodate suffered greatly.
It has been reported that the commercial fishing harbour of Crescent City in California was destroyed. The town was still recovering from a tsunami in 1964. 53 vessels were damaged, including 15 that sank, said Alexia Retallack, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Fish and Game.
The damage in Santa Cruz Harbour is estimated at nearly £10 million. The harbour is housing 58 commercial fishing vessels that were not able to leave the harbour for at least a week until reopened, said Lisa Ekers, director of the Santa Cruz Port District.
Meanwhile, the explosions and leaks from the Fukushima nuclear plant have worried consumers about whether it is safe to eat Japanese fish, for fear of radiation poisoning. However, when asked if tourist should feel safe eating Japanese produce and fish this summer, Dr Thomas Cochran, a senior scientist in the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “Yes, it’s not a problem. Today short-term visitors to the control zone in Chernobyl can even eat the local food there.”
Not all agree with this view though – South Korea has announced that it will be tightening radiation tests on Japanese food imports. The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that all 17 fisheries and meat products imported from Japan will be checked for radiation along with fish caught in waters that may have been contaminated by radioactive materials released from reactors at the Fukushima power plant.
"Inspections will be carried out on all products processed after 12 March when the No. 1 reactor at the nuclear power plant exploded," the ministry said. "Radiation checks will be carried out once a week up till 30 April, and once a month in May and June."
Malaysia’s Health Ministry will also be monitoring food products imported from Japan to ensure it is free of radiation contamination.
Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the government would monitor food items such as fish and fish-based products, fruits and fruit-based products, cereal, beverages, canned food and meat.
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