Japan authorizes commercial flounder ‘test-fishing’ off Fukushima

© Issei Kato
The sales of flounder caught in Fukushima Prefecture might soon resume, with fishermen already “test-fishing” for the first batches of the flatfish. The five-year-long halt in flounder fishing and sales was prompted by the deadly nuclear disaster.

On Friday fishermen caught flounder off the coast of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, during the first test fishing since the 2011 nuclear disaster, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reports. Flounder along with ten other kinds of fish was added to the list for “test-fishing” last week, meaning it is “safe” for sales.

As many as five flatfish were captured with the help of 11 boats equipped with dragnets.

“It is a big step [for flounder fishing],” said Akira Egawa, head of the Iwaki city fishery association. “We are going to recover one by one.”

Following the nuclear disaster the government issued an outright ban on more than 35 kinds of fish including flounder, angler fish and rockfish which were said to contain high levels of radioactive substances.

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The ban has had a huge effect on Fukushima’s fishing industry which has significantly gone down after 2011. Around 5,600 tons of fish were caught off Fukushima coast last year compared to about 38,600 tons before March, 2011.

After March 2011, 50 percent of the fish samples tested for radiation levels exceeded the government-imposed limit of 100 becquerels per kg. However, after April 2015, no fish exceeded that number, according to The Japan Times.