Takeo Koizumi, a Tokyo University of Agriculture professor and a gastronome, broke into a broad smile as he nibbled on slices of fish caught in Tokyo Bay and said they increased his thirst for sake.
Koizumi and his friends held a party in late September at an “izakaya” pub in Tokyo’s Fukagawa district, drinking sake and dining on marinated whiting, sea bass and goby from the bay.
“Almost all the ingredients except for ‘maguro’ (bluefin tuna) are available” in Tokyo Bay, said the owner of a sushi restaurant in the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.
He and the others at the party are part of a panel headed by Koizumi.
The subcommittee on dietary culture of the committee on the restoration of Tokyo Bay, organized two years ago by the Fisheries Agency, has put together a report calling for consumption of local products.
The subcommittee’s report says Tokyo Bay contains a suitable volume of nourishment from the 60 large and small rivers that flow into it.
However, 90 percent of tidal mud flats and shoals — areas where fish lay eggs and for them to grow — had gone into extinction due to bay fill work that started in the Meiji Era (1868-1912).
The bay’s pollution soared when the rapid postwar growth got into full swing from the second half of the 1950s to the early 1970s. The cleanup, however, has since made progress as a result of waste water control.
Presently, 285 different kinds of fish and shellfish are confirmed to live in Tokyo Bay. The amount of fish products and laver caught in the bay totals about 50,000 tons, about half the volume in 1965.
Given that the figure is only slightly less than the 60,000 tons of fish caught by Japanese fishermen in Russian waters off northern Japan, Tokyo Bay is still comparatively rich in resources.
Conger living in the bay account for more than 40 percent of the total brought to Tsukiji, the world’s largest fish market.
Also, about 5,000 full-time fishermen in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures ply the bay.
The value of some of the fish captured in Tokyo Bay, including conger, squilla, sole and clams, has increased as ingredients for tempura and sushi.
Conger, “kochi” (flathead) and “kawahagi” (filefish) caught in the morning are popular at Yokohama’s Shiba fishing port, where they are sold every Sunday afternoon.
According to the subcommittee’s report, consuming fish and shellfish in season will further clean up Tokyo Bay, because nitrogen and phosphorous, which contribute to the sea’s eutrophication, are absorbed by phytoplankton and seaweed, and are eventually consumed by fish as part of the food chain.
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