10 Years On: Miyagi Fishermen Facing New Challenge after Overcoming Tsunami

Society Lifestyle

Sendai, Miyagi Pref., Feb. 18 (Jiji Press)--Countrywide poor catches apparently caused by global warming are posing a new challenge for fishermen in the March 2011 disaster-affected areas in northeastern Japan a decade later.

"It seems too bad to be true," Takanobu Takahashi, 77, who has been involved in the fishing business for over 50 years in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, said, alarmed by the record-breaking deterioration of catches in recent years. He previously served as head of a buyers' cooperative at the fish market in Onagawa, a coastal town hit hard by the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

In 2019, fish catches across Japan, including farmed fish catches, totaled 4.19 million tons, the lowest annual total since statistics began, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a final report in January.

Before the disaster, the fishing industry in Miyagi ranked second in Japan in terms of fisheries yield thanks to rich offshore fishing grounds created by the meeting of the Oyashio Current, a subarctic current flowing southwest in the northwestern Pacific, and the Kuroshio Current, a northeasterly current. The ranking fell to ninth after the tsunami ravaged the prefecture's coastal areas but is now at fourth, as fish markets, fishing vessels and farming facilities were fixed through reconstruction projects by the central and prefectural governments.

Meanwhile, the combined volume of fish landings at Miyagi's four major fishing ports--Shiogawa, Ishinomaki, Onagawa and Kesennuma--hit a peak of 250,000 tons in 2018, but slid to 230,000 tons in 2020. The value of landings at the four ports, which recovered to a predisaster level of 58.4 billion yen in 2017, has also been on the decline and fell as low as 47.6 billion yen in 2020.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press