White Salmon Season in Minamisanriku
October 31, 2011 – Minoru Abe, a 47 year old fisherman from Minamisanriku, considers himself one of the lucky ones. His boat spared, Abe is one of few this October that returns to Minamisanriku’s port with his daily catch of white salmon. Minamisanriku lost 85% of its fleet in the March 11 tsunami, and now Abe has no trouble docking at a port that once struggled with traffic.
Abe unloads his daily catch around noon after twelve hours at sea. Tsunami debris litters Tohoku’s famous fishing grounds, and Abe’s nets bring up a mix of salmon and unidentifiable wreckage. He picks out a purse and a stuffed animal, and displays them as curiosities that have become the post-tsunami norm. These innocuous items no longer bother Abe.
Twisted metals that damage fishing nets is the main concern. Many nets were lost in the tsunami, and breakage puts them in even higher demand. “I try to order more nets, but there are no supplies,” he laments. Only with adequate supplies can Abe fish the entire white salmon season, from September to December, as he has done for the last 30 years.
Peace Winds America and Peace Winds Japan are working with fishermen like Minoru Abe and his 21 year old son through the two fishing cooperatives in Minamisanriku. As fishing seasons change, Peace Winds is making sure that fishermen and fish farmers have the resources they need to restart and restore Tohoku’s most vital industry. With Peace Winds support fishermen will crowd Minamisanriku’s ports once again.
Minoru Abe rests at Minamisanriku’s port after returning from twelve hours at sea (left). Abe’s son unloads white salmon (center). Debris pile at a port in Minamisanriku (right).