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83 species now eligible for test fishing off coast of Fukushima via The Asahi Shimbun

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The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations on Aug. 25 added the 10 species to bring the total number eligible for test fishing to 83. The additions were approved during a meeting in Iwaki of the prefectural council for the rebuilding of regional fisheries.

“I think the 83 fish species accounted for about 70 percent of our pre-disaster hauls,” said Tetsu Nozaki, president of the prefectural fisheries federation. “I am placing particularly high hopes for a great boost in the value of our catches from the resumed fishing of Japanese flounder.”

Test fishing for flounder started on Sept. 2.

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Since April 2011, the Fukushima prefectural government has been monitoring the impact of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on fish and shellfish. The radiation tests, which cover about 200 samples every week, have so far been conducted on 38,000 samples of 184 species.

The concentration of radioactive cesium initially exceeded the central government’s safety limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram in most of the fish and shellfish surveyed. But the concentration has declined from year to year, and no sample has exceeded the safety limit since April 2015.

In more than 90 percent of the samples tested in July 2015 and later, radioactivity levels were below the detection limit.

Radioactivity levels in fish caught near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are also falling.

The central government’s Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency (FRA) on Aug. 25 released data on radioactivity levels in Japanese flounder caught in July in waters around the crippled nuclear plant.

The FRA said its high-precision tests, with a lower limit of detection set at a mere 1 becquerel per kg, found radioactivity levels of less than 10 becquerels per kg in all 41 individual organisms tested. More than 90 percent of them measured less than 5 becquerels per kg.

Catches from test fishing have continued to grow: 122 tons in 2012, 406 tons in 2013, 742 tons in 2014 and 1,512 tons in 2015.

But last year’s catch was only 5.8 percent of the annual catch of 26,050 tons averaged over the decade preceding the 2011 disaster.

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