The number of salmon returning to rivers in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in Japan has decreased significantly since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that damaged Japan in 2011, according to reports from the Chicago Tribune.

The number of salmon returning to major Japanese rivers are at serious lows, but the country is working to rebuild stocks. Flickr user OiMax photo.Salmon eggs are collected and young salmon are released into rivers in those districts each year, but fewer salmon were released following the 2011 earthquake. Those salmon were supposed to return last fall, but came back at the lowest levels since the disaster.

Can you blame them? The magnitude 9.0 earthquake was the most powerful one to ever hit Japan and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

It’s bad enough trying to help a stock recover from natural population fluctuations or overfishing, let alone a national disaster that shakes the entire country.

According to reports, about 236,000 salmon had been caught in Iwate rivers as of Dec. 10, a decrease of 22 percent from the previous year. Numbers from Miyagi saw a 31 percent decline.

Data gathering for Fukushima stocks has not been completed, but the industry has only been operating in six of the 10 rivers they would normally since the nuclear accident and expects numbers to be very low.

Returns have been low as of late, but the industry is cautiously optimistic and has collected more than 90 percent of their target egg supply. Not a bad plan.

The disaster, of course, had people worried back in the states, too. As much as the corners of the internet would like to have you believe radiation from the nuclear disaster is still making it’s way to North America, scientists have officially said “don’t worry about it.” Your Pacific tuna and salmon are safe.

While we aren’t problem-free across the Pacific, remember to be thankful of the stocks when they’re healthy. It has been an uphill battle for Japanese fishermen since 2011, but it looks like they’re finally getting to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Lert's hope they can get back to full-throttle fishing soon.

Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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