３ generations work to restore confidence in fishing（親子３代、水産業復活に挑む）
"There are oodles of high-quality fish off the coast of Fukushima," said Tadashi Watanabe, 56, a fisherman in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. "To strike back against damaging rumors, I want to create an unbeatable Fukushima brand."
Watanabe was the captain of the Takusui, a research vessel in the prefecture's Research Institute of Fisheries Resources fleet. In March, he retired early and became a fisherman, working on the boat his father, Tomoe, 90, owns.
Tadashi's eldest son, Yuto, 24, is also a fisherman.
Three generations in one family are trying to revive the fisheries industry in the prefecture.
As captain of the Takusui, Tadashi's job was to conduct research on the marine resources and fishing sites off the coast of Fukushima.
He was tasked with predicting catch volumes of fish species based on the growth status of young fish, such as Japanese flounder, and catches of fish, and then providing that information to local fisherman and other concerned parties.
Back then, Tadashi worked as a prefectural government official on weekdays and helped Tomoe on weekends. Although Tadashi had little leisure time, he always wanted to take over the family business someday.
Then the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in March 2011, setting off an accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
After the nuclear disaster occurred, fishing resumed in the form of test operations, but damaging rumors were deep-rooted. Tomoe's work was affected, too.
Tadashi had an experience he will never forget. One day, his second son, who was an elementary school student at the time, asked him, "Why don't people buy grandpa's fish?" Tadashi had no answer. "I didn't know how to reply to him," Tadashi said.
Damaging rumors persist to this day. "I sometimes think that Fukushima Prefecture's fisheries industry may not survive," he said.
Despite that sentiment, as someone in the local fisheries industry, Tadashi worked hard on his research, hoping to improve the situation somehow.
Why does he go out to sea in the face of such daunting circumstances?
"It's my spirit, dang it!" Tadashi replied. Tomoe had taught him to be gritty.
His future may be unclear, but, "I feel that I will be rewarded someday if I continue," Tadashi said.
Ever since he became a professional fisherman, Tadashi has placed importance on the concept of "seeing the faces of the fishing industry."
While helping his father do commercial fishing on weekdays and skipper a boat for fishing enthusiasts on weekends, Tadashi began to notice the joyful smiles of customers on the boat.
"If smiles spread nationwide through our teaching people how to fish and how to cook tasty fish dishes, damaging rumors will gradually disappear," he said.
In addition, Tadashi thinks that "fishermen should imagine the faces of the people who eat their fish." In his mind's eye, he pictures fish he caught being placed on dining tables and therefore treats every fish
"It may be just a small difference in my sentiment," Tadashi said. "But the accumulated efforts help to create a Fukushima brand."
This year marks the 36th year Tadashi has plied his trade on the sea. Tying together the lessons learned from his father and getting back to the basics as a fisherman, Tadashi is embarking upon a new path.
（ Translated by The Japan News ）
【 ２０２２年３月６日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】
- Wasabi grown at super-high speed in greenhouse（ワサビ、温室で超促成栽培）
- New facility to develop hydrogen refueling technology for large vehicles Opens（大型車への水素充填技術開発へ）
- Tsunami-ravaged school passing on lessons of disaster（津波の教訓伝える学校）
- Plastic waste converted into fuel oil（廃プラから燃料油）
- 'Sunset' strawberry introduced as new variety（新品種イチゴは「ゆうやけベリー」）
- Art festival planned to boost reconstruction efforts in Fukushima Pref.（芸術祭で復興後押し）
- UFO lab in Fukushima City receiving many sighting reports from around the world（UFO研究所に世界から目撃情報続々）
- Student aims to graduate at major U.S. dance competition（米の著名ダンス大会で高みを目指す学生）
- Post office destroyed by tsunami reopens 11 years later（津波で全壊の郵便局、11年ぶり再開）
- Teenage soccer player determined to chase glory on German team（ドイツで栄光を目指す）