Fukushima fish radiation excessive, Greenpeace says

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

Radiology and marine experts from Greenpeace said Tuesday that four out of eight samples of various fish obtained last month at five ports in Fukushima Prefecture exceeded the government-set limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram of radiation.

Although fishery cooperatives in Fukushima have halted coastal commercial operations since March 11 and catches from the area are not being sold to retailers, the environmental group urged the government to conduct detailed checks on fish caught off the Fukushima coast to prevent their accidental sale.

A sample of “kuromebaru” rockfish hit 1,053 becquerels per kg, the group said.

“These were eight samples that were donated to Greenpeace, eight randomly taken samples” that were provided by local and amateur fishermen, Jan van de Putte, radiology safety expert of the NGO, said at a news conference in Tokyo.

But Van de Putte stressed that even the least contaminated fish showed traces of radiation.

Greenpeace said the government must work quickly to ensure the safety of consumers, including measures to trace the origin of such products.

“We have requested the Fisheries Agency and the Consumer Affairs Agency to label each fish with its origin as well as the level of radiation contamination,” Wakao Hanaoka, the oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Japan, said.

The farm ministry tags every cow with a 10-digit identification number that consumers can use to trace where the beef they purchase came from.

But a similar system for fish hasn’t been set up yet. “Under the current circumstances, consumers cannot purchase (fish) with complete knowledge that it is safe,” Hanaoka said.

Greenpeace revealed that it has also requested major retailers in Japan to take part in providing safe fish, possibly through establishing their own screening system for radiation and providing accurate data of the product to consumers.

Allowing only safe fish to hit the market will ultimately be the key to reviving Fukushima’s fisheries, Hanaoka said.

Samples of fish were obtained between July 22 and 24 and examined at laboratories in France that are certified by the French nuclear authority, Greenpeace said.