A dearth of foreign technical interns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to deal a heavy blow to Hiroshima Prefecture’s oyster industry.

An entry ban put in place in the wake of the pandemic has prevented many of the trainees from arriving in Japan, depriving local seafood firms of a key source of labor they depend on to peel and process oysters.

Although the ban is set to be partially relaxed, prospects remain dire, a manpower shortage unavoidable. The harvest of oysters begins this month, and local businesses are still concerned they will be forced to scale back shipments for this season.