Fukushima olive flounders return to market(「ヒラメ漁」再開へ 出荷停止解除)

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Kazuyasu Takahashi smiles in front of a boat in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, last month. He talked about his immense expectation for local olive flounders as the shipment ban on the fish was lifted.(ヒラメの出荷停止指示の解除を受け期待を高める高橋さん=6月9日、相馬市尾浜)

 FUKUSHIMA -- Olive flounders caught off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture will be back on the market as the government lifted a shipment ban on the fish, which were traded at high prices before the 2011 nuclear disaster. The ban was lifted early last month together with one on whitespotted conger eels.

 政府は9日、本県沖で漁獲されたヒラメとマアナゴについて、東京電力福島第1原発事故の影響に伴う出荷停止指示を解除した。市場への流通が可能になる。

 Olive flounders shipped from Fukushima ports are called Joban-mono, named after the traditional name for the area -- Joban.
  They are latest type of fish caught off the coast of the prefecture for which the shipping ban has been lifted. Olive flounders will become a subject of trial operations -- small-scale fishing and sales. It is expected the fish will be available in stores as early as September, after the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations and the Fukushima prefectural government have the necessary discussions. The number of types of fish still not allowed on the market now stands at 26.

 震災前「常磐もの」として高値で取引された本県産ヒラメは、県漁連や県の協議を経て、早ければ9月にも水揚げされて市場に流通する見通し。ヒラメとマアナゴの解除により、本県沖で漁獲される魚介類の出荷停止対象魚種は26魚種となった。

 The level of radioactive substances in olive flounders from Fukushima Prefecture has remained below the government-set threshold of 100 becquerels per kilogram for quite some time. Thus, both the central and prefectural governments reached a conclusion that the levels in those fish would not exceed the threshold.
 Local fishery associations -- including the Soso (Soma-Futaba) and Iwaki areas' committees on test fishing and boards of the fishery cooperative heads -- will discuss necessary matters such as the period of trial operation, distribution plans and countermeasures against possible economic damage caused by concerns about contamination.

 県産ヒラメは放射性物質検査で国の食品基準値(1キロ当たり100ベクレル)を安定して下回っており、政府と県の協議で「基準値を超えるケースはない」と判断された。ヒラメ漁の再開に向けては今後、試験操業の対象魚種に追加するため、相双、いわき両地区の試験操業検討委員会や組合長会議などで操業期間や流通態勢、風評対策などを協議する。

 "The catch of olive flounders is the third largest among fish caught in the prefecture," said Tetsu Nozaki, chair of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations. "It will contribute to progress in trial operations as a whole."

 県漁連の野崎哲会長は「ヒラメは本県で水揚げされる魚種の中でも3番目の漁獲高を誇る魚種。試験操業自体も大きく前進するだろう」と述べた。

 The catch of olive flounders in Fukushima Prefecture in 2010 was 734 tons, ranked third in the nation. Prior to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, olive flounder was Fukushima's major fish. It was sold at a high price at the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, better known as Tsukiji Market. However, shipments of the fish were banned in June 2012.

 2010(平成22)年の本県のヒラメの漁獲量は734トンで全国3位を誇った。震災前は「常磐もの」として東京都中央卸売市場でも高値で取引される本県の主力魚種だったが、12年6月に出荷停止となった。

 According to the prefectural government, levels of radioactive cesium in all 1,078 olive flounder caught for inspection between March 10, 2014, and May 23 this year fell below the government-set threshold. The density of the radioactive substance has been decreasing year by year. The highest level detected from fish caught in the same period was 87 becquerels per kilogram, with the average level at 9.7 becquerels per kilogram.

 県によると、14年3月10日~今年5月23日、検査のため漁獲されたヒラメ1078検体は全て基準値を下回った。セシウムの濃度は年々低くなっており、同期間の最大値は1キロ当たり87ベクレル、平均値は同9.7ベクレル。

 The prefectural government had been conducting a number of inspections, as well as taking part in discussions with the central government to lift the ban. These efforts were made to ensure that no fish would exceed the threshold after the ban was lifted.

 県は、出荷停止解除後に再び基準値を超える検体が出ないよう慎重に検査を重ね、政府と解除に向けた検討を進めていた。

 'Special fish'
 People in the local fishery industry were filled with joy as they heard that the shipment ban would be lifted on the prefecture's fish. It was long-awaited news for them since they have been making efforts to reconstruct the area through trial operations aimed at restoring their fishery business to its condition before the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

 「ヒラメは特別な魚」
 待望のブランド魚種解除に、東京電力福島第1原発事故前の漁業を取り戻そうと、試験操業で復興に向けた模索を続ける関係者からは喜びの声が上がった。

 Mitsunori Suzuki, chair of the Iwaki area's committee on trial operations, welcomed the ban on shipping olive flounders being lifted, saying: "Olive flounder is a major product in the Iwaki area's fishery business. I'm so happy." The local committee consists of fishermen who participate in trial operations.
 Those involved will have meetings on the operation in detail, according to Suzuki. They will also talk about other necessary matters including effective fishing methods and measures to eliminate groundless fears among consumers, Suzuki also said.

  試験操業に参加する漁業者でつくる、いわき地区試験操業検討委員会の鈴木三則会長は「ヒラメはいわき地区の漁業では主力の魚。喜ばしいこと」と出荷停止解除を歓迎した。今後の操業については、「関係者で会議を重ねていく」として、風評被害払拭(ふっしょく)や効率的な漁獲方法などを検討していく。

 "It'll give momentum to the fishery business," said Kazuyasu Takahashi, a 38-year-old fisherman of the Soma-Futaba fishery cooperative.
 Takahashi, the owner of a ship named Koki Maru, has caught olive flounders for about 20 years. He had been taking part in trial operations to catch fish such as young sand lance and whitebait. Still, "olive flounders are a special fish" for him. (Translated by The Japan News)

 相馬双葉漁協の漁師で約20年ヒラメを取ってきた幸喜丸の船主・高橋一泰さん(38)は「漁業復興に弾みがつく」と喜ぶ。これまでコウナゴやシラスの試験操業に参加してきたが「やっぱりヒラメは特別な魚」と笑顔を見せた。(2016年6月10日・本紙掲載)

 According to Seiichi Saito, director of the Soma-Futaba fishery cooperative's operation department, trial operations to catch olive flounders will start as early as September in the sea off the Soso area as trawl fishing will begin in the season.
 "Lifting the shipment ban is delightful news," said Saito, 59. He also mentioned there is still a problem with the distribution phase, saying there is currently only one company dealing in live fish caught off the Soso area, down from five or so before the disaster.

  同漁協の斎藤誠一事業部長(59)によると、相双沖でヒラメの試験操業ができるのは早くて底引き船の出漁が始まる9月。「出荷停止解除は明るいニュース」と話す。一方、天然物のヒラメは生きたままで取引されることが多いが、現在、相双沖の活魚を扱う業者は震災前の約5社から1社に減っており、流通面での課題も指摘した。

 "With a growing demand for natural olive flounders across the nation, the fish have been sold with high price tags," said Takeshi Hamada, a professor at Sapporo-based Hokkai-Gakuen University. He also serves as a member of a prefectural council to discuss the reconstruction of the regional fishery business. "Joban-mono olive flounders will likely be sold at high prices throughout the nation as well," Hamada said.
 "Introducing an auction and bidding system will lead to an increase in the olive flounder price. I think it will boost local fishermen's motivation and bring progress in the fishery industry," he said.

 県地域漁業復興協議会委員を務める北海学園大(札幌市)の浜田武士教授は「現在、全国的に天然ヒラメの需要が高まり、高値が付いている」として「常磐もののヒラメが全国でも高値が付く可能性が高い」と分析。「競り、入札を取り入れ、ヒラメに高値が付くことで漁業者のやる気の向上、漁業の前進につながるのでは」と述べた。

 Hamada also mentioned the importance of markets and local businesses to be prepared to distribute the fish live, and keep in mind the restart of olive flounder fishing through trial operations.

( Translated by The Japan News )

 また、試験操業での漁獲が開始されることを前提とし「活魚で流通させる、市場や業者の態勢構築も必要」と提言した。

 【 2016年6月10日・福島民友新聞掲載 】