Abalone Fishing Returns to Minamisanriku

Working the sorting table.

Abalone, a treasured delicacy, is critical to the economy of Minamisanriku. For generations, fishing families have harvested abalone from the rocks at the sea bottom using traditional methods—using waterglasses and long rods with special hooks.  The entire community uses these methods.  They ensure a natural harvest, and one that preserves generations of tradition.

The last abalone harvest was winter of 2010.  Most fishing families lost their houses, boats, and equipment in the 3/11 tsunami.  Though many fishermen were looking forward to the abalone season in the wake of the disaster, they lacked the funds to replace the equipment.  The season was cancelled, and the community guarded the area from illegal poachers.

As the 2012 season approached, Peace Winds America provided subsidies to the fishermen so they could purchase the specialized rods, hooks, and waterglasses needed to fish.  With the subsidies, many fishermen were finally able to gear-up for the 2012 season.

Using waterglasses to find abalone.

The abalone harvest began in late November, 2012.  The harvest announcement only comes one day in advance, which only happens when the fishing cooperatives determine the weather and sea conditions are perfect.  The 2012 season lasted only three days.

“Once I was at a sea and caught the first abalone, I felt so great and happy to finally be able to harvest again.  It was a little different scenery this year with much fewer boats and they are mostly new boats and new equipment. But the subsidy program from Peace Winds eased our family financial burden for the equipment purchase and I am grateful for the opportunity to harvest again.
The Minamisanriku fishing families were very excited to go back to the sea.  You could sense the entire city was thrilled to see the harvest as the fishermen offloaded their prized catch.

Mr. Takahashi, a fishermen from the Shizugawa district.

PWA is standing together with the men and women who fish the waters of Minamisanriku. With your support we are rebuilding lives, and restoring livelihoods.

The catch - an abalone.

READ MORE > about Peace Winds’ work in Tohoku.