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When the tsunami and earthquake struck Japan, many businesses were destroyed, including the Ofunato fish market. Not only did it deprive fishermen and the supporting businesses a livelihood, residents of this fishing town suddenly found themselves without fresh seafood, an important and regular part of their diet.
With help from Mercy Corps and Peace Winds, the Ofunato fish market reopened for business this summer. Basic equipment to off-load and sell fish – plastic tanks, weighing scales, small forklifts, an electricity generator – and other assistance means that the port can receive the catch from trawlers and fishing boats, and local fish sellers are able to get back into business as well.
According to Malka Older, Team Leader for Mercy Corps' response in Japan, the first buyers coming to the Ofunato fish market were locals seeking to stock up small fish shops, sashimi restaurants or local markets. “Most of them, like the employees of the fish market itself, have not been able to work since the tsunami hit, and there is a festive air all morning. I imagine that their customers will also be happy to be able to buy fresh fish again; when we talked to people who had been in evacuation centers, or even living in their own homes in the months after the disaster, many in this fishing town said it was one of the things they craved most,” she posted in a Mercy Corps’ blog.
Peace Winds and Mercy Corps continues to work along the tsunami-stricken coast to assist the vital fishing industry to return to full health.
GreaterGood.org donated more than $100,000 to Mercy Corps’ efforts in Japan following the tsunami and earthquake and continues to support their disaster relief efforts worldwide through The Hunger Site’s “Click Here To Give” program and Gifts That Give More [tm].
Photo of Peace Winds worker surveying tsunami damage courtesy of Mercy Corps