Fishermen have resumed catching whitebait off Fukushima Prefecture for the first time in nearly 4 years, although on a trial basis.
Whitebait fishing off the coast of Iwaki City is conducted in spring and autumn. It was halted after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011, with the last catch taking place in October 2010.
Trial fishing operations were to resume in September last year, but were postponed when highly radioactive wastewater was found to be leaking out to sea from the damaged plant.
On Tuesday, 17 small fishing boats left ports in the city and caught whitebait several kilometers offshore.
The roughly 3-centimeter-long fish will be boiled and then dried before shipment.
The local fishermen’s cooperative says the day’s 3-ton catch has been tested for radioactive material and confirmed safe.
Whitebait is one of the main hauls for the city’s small-boat fishermen and a key to reviving the local fishing industry.
The head of a group of local whitebait fishermen says the catch will be limited to once a week for the time being, but is a step forward all the same.