• Kyodo

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A poll of seafood producers affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami showed Friday that only 40 percent have seen sales recover to 80 percent or more of pre-disaster levels.

Concern over the effects of the subsequent nuclear disaster, labor shortages and cost increases amid the weaker yen are impeding the recovery of the mainstay industry of eastern Japan, according to the poll by the Fisheries Agency.

The agency conducted the poll between November and January in five prefectures damaged most heavily by the disasters. It received responses from 314, or 34 percent, of the firms polled.

Seafood firms that saw sales recover to 80 percent or higher accounted for 90 percent of the respondents in Aomori, 58 percent in Iwate, 40 percent in Miyagi, 39 percent in Ibaraki and 21 percent in Fukushima, which hosts the meltdown-hit nuclear plant.

Compared with a separate survey conducted between February and March last year in the hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the ratio of seafood processors that showed sales recoveries of 80 percent or higher still rose in those prefectures.

Larger companies tended to see faster recoveries than smaller ones. In the latest five-prefecture poll, respondents that had seen sales recover to 80 percent or higher accounted for 61 percent of firms capitalized at ¥50 million or more, much higher than the 25 percent among companies capitalized at ¥10 million or less.

Among the problems faced, 31 percent of the respondents, the largest proportion, cited food safety concerns associated with the nuclear disaster and difficulty securing sales channels, followed by 25 percent who reported labor shortages.

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