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Fish Markets in South Korea Brace for Impact

The fishing industry in South Korea is worried over Japan’s release of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The move is expected to reduce overall fish consumption and visitors to fish markets, the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives told The Korea Herald.

Seoul’s Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market, the nation’s largest fish market, has seen a fall in sales since last month, following the safety review of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the Fukushima water, he said.

Merchants are concerned about their business outlook regardless of the validity of the safety review, the official added.

The official said his organisation plans to hold a conference at the Noryangjin market this week to share ideas to counter the potential fallout that will follow Japan’s water release.

According to a fisheries cooperative report, the sales of fishery products at local markets tumbled almost 40 per cent back in 2013, when the Japanese government admitted that highly contaminated water had leaked from the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

Discount stores also suffered about a 20 per cent decline in sales, the report added.

Consumers are also expressing fears about eating seafood after the water release. “I feel like I should no longer eat seafood for safety reasons,” said a 53-year-old woman living in Gyeonggi Province.

In a poll conducted by the nongovernmental Korea Consumer Agency in April, 92.4 per cent of 525 respondents said that they would reduce their seafood consumption if Japan releases the contaminated water.

Retailers said there was no significant change in sales of fishery products in June and July.

But they added they will strengthen monitoring of radiation levels of fishery products in the future.

Seoul’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries also plans to ramp up efforts to boost sales of fish and seafood consumption, doubling its budget to stockpile fishery products to KRW175 billion (USD131 million).

Whether the government will directly offer financial support for fishery businesses, however, has not yet been decided.

Source: Borneo Bulletin