September 6, 2011

110905_002Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) has been supporting the recovery of the fishing industry in Miyagi Prefecture. It has established a field office at Heisei no Mori in Minamisanriku, developing a relationship with the fishermen and conducting an assessment for the fishing industry there. First, PWJ provided clothes (rubber boots, waterproof coveralls, etc.) that the fishermen used for getting rid of debris near and in the ocean. It also provided oxygen tanks and a compressor when professors from Tohoku University conducted research to see the effect of the tsunami on the natural habitats in the water. In addition, as part of its support for Fisheries Cooperative Associations, PWJ provided tools to the local Ono Shipbuilding Co. to fix ships for both Fishing Associations. PWJ is also providing deeper support for both the Utatsu and Shizugawa Fisheries Cooperatives. For example. PWJ has started to provide materials to restart seaweed farming at Utatsu. Full-scale cultivation began in August. PWJ has provided the materials needed for seaweed cultivation such as ropes, water signals, fishing buoys, etc. It also set up a temporary office for Shizugawa Fisheries Cooperative Association since they needed to build a new office inland. The office was under construction and was scheduled to be completed at the end of August.

110812_002In Iwate Prefecture, PWJ is also helping the Ofunato Marine Products Business Cooperative relaunch its “Mackerel Direct Mail” as a way to help the local economy rebuild. Freshly caught mackerel that come into the Ofunato fish market are packed in ice and shipped throughout Japan. Mackerel is one of the Ofunato fisheries’ main businesses, representing 45 percent of its catch. But the cooperative’s offices and workspace were destroyed in the tsunami. In July, PWJ helped the Ofunato fish market reopen and then it began to look at how to help reopen the cooperative so that it could handle the processing and distribution necessary to get to the fish to customers. As a result, PWJ provided a workspace in which the cooperative can prepare and pack the fish, along with the necessary equipment. On September 5, a ceremony was held to officially launch the reopened mackerel mail order service, which was attended by the deputy mayor of Ofunato and the leaders of the Ofunato Chamber of Commerce. Although they are behind the normal pace, they have already received orders for 10,200 cases of mackerel and are hoping to reach the 20,000 mark for the year. The president of the cooperative noted, “I had given up on relaunching the delivery service this year, and without PWJ’s help, we couldn’t have done it. At the opening ceremony, I was so happy it brought tears to my eyes. This year, the mackerel are bigger than average, so I want to be answer all the requests from people who are hoping to enjoy our Ofunato mackerel.”