Radioactive fish found off Japan


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06-04-2011 08:11 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


06-04-2011 08:11 AM



06-04-2011 08:46 AM

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2011-04-06 08:11:20

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Radioactive fish found off Japan -

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There's concern that radioactive fish will end up on the dinner plates of Japanese families.
Fisherman have already placed a ban on catching one popular fish found near the Fukushima nuclear
plant after finding radioactive caesium in a catch. The average Japanese household consumes about
66 kilograms of fish a year.

TONY EASTLEY: Fishing cooperatives south of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have
banned the catches of one species of fish after radioactive caesium was found in a commercial haul.

Caesium has a half-life of 30 years and can accumulate on the ocean floor.

While authorities are calling for calm, consumers of seafood in Japan aren't so sure.

Here's North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy in Tokyo.

MARK WILLACY: The average Japanese household consumes about 66kg of fish every year.

Seafood is a culinary obsession, so anything threatening the safety of eating it is big news.

(Sound of NHK theme song)

NHK ANNOUNCER: Radioactive caesium above the legal limit has been found in small fish caught off
the coast of Ibaraki just south of Fukushima.

(Sound of NHK theme song)

MARK WILLACY: The radioactive caesium was discovered in a catch of young lance, a tiny fish usually
caught in shallow seawater. The Japanese enjoy eating it dried or cooked.

Five hundred and twenty six becquerels per kilogram of caesium was detected - above the 500
becquerel limit.

It could mean that radioactivity from overheated or melted fuel rods from the Fukushima nuclear
plant has leached into the ocean.

The finding prompted 10 fishing cooperatives in Ibaraki, south of Fukushima, to immediately
suspended catches of young lance.

(Sound of Ibaraki fishing cooperative official speaking)

"This is the perfect time for young lance fishing," says this fishing cooperative official. "This
suspension is necessary but it will put people out of business. This radiation issue needs to be
resolved soon", he says.

(Sound of fisherman)

"I don't know how long this suspension will last", says this fisherman. "I hope the radiation will
be contained as soon as possible", he says.

Caesium has a radioactive half-life of 30 years and according to scientists can accumulate on the
ocean floor where shellfish live and feed.

While fishing cooperatives have suspended fishing of young lance, the government is simply going to
raise the legal or acceptable limit of caesium in marine life.

(Sound of Yukio Edano speaking)

"These fishermen have suspended fishing voluntarily", says government spokesman Yukio Edano. "The
government will step up monitoring to look into the matter more closely rather than banning fishing
across the board", he says.

Authorities insist consumers have nothing to fear but these assurances don't mean much to many fans
of fish.

(Sound of Japanese woman speaking)

"I don't know what's going to happen", says this shopper. "I'm worried but I just can't stop eating
fish", she says.

And it's that Japanese passion for seafood which the industry is hoping will get it through.

This is Mark Willacy in Tokyo for AM.