Post-disaster "asari" clam harvesting enters 2nd year in Soma city

8 April 2017

Harvesting of "asari" Japanese littleneck clams began on April 13 in Matsukawaura, a lagoon on the Pacific coast of Soma city, Fukushima Prefecture. The annual asari digging season was the second following last year when fishermen lifted a self-imposed ban in place since the 2011 earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Harvesting of the shellfish will continue once a week through August.

A total of 21 fishermen from the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association set sail on 16 boats from Iwanoko fishing port shortly after 8 a.m. Clad in waterproof pants fitted with boots, they used long-handled dredges, dubbed "manga," to scoop up the shellfish. Their combined catch of the day, about 400 kilograms, was landed at the port.

The shellfish was subjected to screening for radioactive substances and safety was confirmed. The clams were left alone to allow them to discharge sand and other impurities. They were then sold to consumers at seafood stands and other places.

The central government had not imposed restrictions on asari harvesting since the disaster, but the association voluntarily refrained from catching the shellfish. It resumed harvesting in April last year, deeming the restart as "test operation" in light of consumer concerns over radioactive contamination.

A stand at the Isobe seafood processing facility in Soma, open from Monday to Saturday, began business on the first and third Sundays as well, starting this month. It sells "kounago" (young lancefish), "hoshigarei" (dried flatfish), boiled "hokki" (surf clam) and boiled octopus as well as asari from Matsukawaura. It is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(Translated by Kyodo News)