Monday, March 28, 2011

Seafood crisis in Japan

Seafood demand is down in Japan, way down. "The fish are here, but nobody's buying," says one fish seller about business at the Tsukiji auction, Japan's premier fish market.

Tsukiji is normally a busy city, with some 60,000 workers, but prices have plunged by up to 50% for some seafood products.

"The drop in demand from sushi restaurants and the cancellation of weddings and banquets at hotels are partly to blame," an official of the market's marine and agricultural produce section said.

Radiation fears are also a problem according to

Food safety fears have risen since radiation from the coastal Fukushima plant has been detected in vegetables and dairy products grown nearby, and after iodine levels in Tokyo tap water rose above levels safe for infants.

There has been no official warning about the impact on marine life, but operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday that iodine-131 levels in the ocean near the plant were 145 times the legal level, Kyodo News reported.

Japan's seafood world is reeling, and the outcome is far from clear. The problems will likely persist for some time. The biggest long-term risk may be the radiation scare that already has some seafood buyers scared (see photo above of a chef screening imported seafood for radioactivity).

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