Ten years after the March 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant catastrophe, local fishermen are finally holding out hope for a return to normalcy this spring.

The industry has long battled reputational damage to its products and salaries have taken a hit as annual catches have been kept at a fraction of pre-quake levels. In the first year after the quake, more than half of the fish samples tested for radioactive cesium levels exceeded the state’s limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram. But the samples continued to show decreasing radioactivity and shipment restrictions were lifted for all marine fisheries products in February 2020.

Things are looking even brighter this year as the local fisheries association plans to resume full-scale fishing operations next month. But industry insiders are increasingly worried that their efforts during the slow recovery over the past decade may come to naught if the government goes ahead with its long-sought target of releasing more than 1 million tons of treated radioactive water into the sea.