Japan’s government banned commercial fishing in this area, some 200 km (125 miles) northeast of Tokyo, after a devastating 2011 tsunami and the reactor meltdowns and explosions that followed at the nearby Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
The walls of a once-bustling fish market that sold Yaoita’s catch of flounder, rockfish, greenling and other sealife in the port of Hisanohama, about 20 km (12 miles) south of the ruined plant, remain in ruins.
The fishermen of Hisanohama, forced out of work by the disaster, have had no choice but to take the only job available – checking contamination levels in fish just offshore from the destroyed nuclear reactor buildings.
“We used to be so proud of our fish. They were famous across Japan and we made a decent living out of them,” said 80-year-old Yaoita, who survived the tsunami by taking on the waves and sailing the six-person True Prosperity out to sea.
“Now the only thing for us is sampling.”
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