Despite 3/11 disaster, wakame still cultivated in Tohoku

February 19, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

MINAMI-SANRIKU, Miyagi Prefecture--Undaunted by the tsunami disaster that nearly wiped out their livelihoods two years ago, a handful of fishermen still ply the waters of Shizukawa Bay to harvest edible Sanriku seaweed.

The Mitobe aquaculture association in the Tokura district has two boats left and eight crew members to carry on the tradition of cultivating and gathering Sanriku wakame under a morning sun.

The association lost almost all its fishing boats in the tsunami triggered by the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake.

Many fishermen closed their businesses and the number of association members has halved.

Now the remaining seven members, and a fisherman who came from another district to help out, are all that is left of the enterprise.

One of the two remaining boats, Daisan Taka Maru, rode out the tsunami by taking to open waters minutes after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck.

“The fact that this boat has survived is significant because I lost my house in the disaster,” said Koichi Matsuoka, owner of the Daisan Taka Maru.

“There is excellent teamwork among us and I also have a son to succeed me,” said Matsuoka, 57, proudly. “We can still carry on making a living here.”

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Koichi Matsuoka cuts wakame seaweed raised from the seabed off Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, early on Feb. 12. (Shogo Koshida)

Koichi Matsuoka cuts wakame seaweed raised from the seabed off Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, early on Feb. 12. (Shogo Koshida)

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  • Koichi Matsuoka cuts wakame seaweed raised from the seabed off Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, early on Feb. 12. (Shogo Koshida)

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