Seafood from Iwaki makes return to Tsukiji

Kyodo

Fish caught off southern Fukushima Prefecture near Iwaki traded at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo on Friday for the first time since the core meltdowns hit the Fukushima No. 1 power plant in March 2011.

The varieties sold Friday were caught during trial fishing operations that began in mid-October and are referred to as “Joban mono,” or specialties from the historical Joban area, which includes part of Ibaraki Prefecture.

“The fish is just as fresh as it used to be,” said one vendor. “The treasure of the sea is back.”

About 100 kg of seafood including “karei” (flounder) and “mehikari” (round greeneyes) was shipped Thursday after passing radiation checks. Soon after selling began at 1 a.m. Friday, wholesalers started loading the fish, which were in containers and certified free of radioactive contamination.

The flounder was selling for an average of around ¥1,000 per kg, relatively low compared with before the nuclear disaster. But the wholesalers said they hope prices will go up.

“Flounder from Fukushima is very tasty,” said 61-year-old Kazuo Sasamoto, an intermediate wholesaler who purchased five containers of the fish. “Since they have been thoroughly checked and confirmed (as safe), it’s not good to remain swayed by bad rumors.”

The trial fishing was initially planned for September last year but was postponed by a radioactive water leak at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Catches from trial fishing in the Soma district further north went on sale in August 2012.