FUKUSHIMA – Fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture said Wednesday they plan to scale down their self-imposed fishing ban in waters off the damaged nuclear power plant due mainly to a substantial decline in radioactive cesium levels.
The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations is considering narrowing the area subject to the ban to a 10-kilometer radius from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant from the current 20-kilometer radius.
The move comes as plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. last autumn completed the construction of a shielding wall to prevent leaks of contaminated groundwater into the sea. Since the completion, radiation levels in sea waters at the plant’s port have been declining.
In addition, prefectural research shows the radioactive cesium levels of marine products caught in coastal areas have dropped substantially.
The proportion of marine products with cesium levels exceeding the state standards of 100 becquerels per kilogram fell to less than 0.1 percent last year from some 40 percent between April and December 2011, soon after the nuclear accident at the plant in March that year. No products have surpassed the level in checks since last April.
The federation is scheduled to make a final decision late next month. “The environment of the seas of Fukushima has improved, and conditions for reviving fisheries are being laid out,” federation leader Tetsu Nozaki told reporters.
After the tsunami-triggered triple meltdown at the nuclear plant, the federation voluntarily halted all of its coastal fishing. In June 2012, it started trial operations in a limited area, which has since expanded in steps.