Kamaishi Platform—Coastal Community Project: Support for Artisanal Oyster Farming
Location: Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture
Grant: ¥5,000,000 (approx. $61,700; 2- year grant)
Kamaishi Platform was established in late 2011 to help the people of Kamaishi and the surrounding areas recover from the devastation of the 3/11 disaster. Once known as a steel town, Kamaishi’s steel mills closed in the late 1980s, leaving the fishing industry as the central pillar of the town’s economy. Oyster cultivation in particular has been a key part of the community’s identity. But when the tsunami hit, the 14-foot waves that swept over the town effectively wiped out the local businesses and infrastructure.
To help rebuild the economy and the community, the Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund made a two-year grant of ¥5 million to Kamaishi Platform for its “Coastal Community Project: Support for Artisanal Oyster Farming.” The grant was made possible thanks to the BTMU Americas Community Recovery Award and other funders.
Kamaishi Platform is undertaking a variety of initiatives to help create a vibrant, sustainable community. One of its major projects is the resurrection of the local oyster industry that was wiped out by the tsunami. It is launching an innovative plan to build a network of oyster farmers and consumers by linking Kamaishi’s small artisanal producers with consumers and restaurants in Tokyo, allowing them make contributions to support the rebirth of the local industry in return for allocations of oysters for the next 10 years. One aim is to help build up a brand awareness of Kamaishi oysters in the hope that this will revive not just the local economy, but also local pride. The initiative also includes events that bring together Tokyo restaurateurs and diners with Kamaishi oyster farmers and activities to introduce local community members to people in urban areas who have been supporting disaster initiatives so that they can share their experiences. This grant is also helping Kamaishi Platform expand its network of supporters and providing capital for investments needed during the initial phase of the project.