Peace Winds America (PWA) and Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) are working with two fishing cooperatives in the small coastal town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi. The Shizugawa Fishing Cooperative and the Udatsu Fishing Cooperative support more than 600 members in Minamisanriku’s most vital industry.
The March 11 tsunami flattened the seaside offices of both Shizugawa and Udatsu. These offices are resource and management centers that are critical to Minamisanriku’s fishing industry. Peace Winds recently finished construction of new offices for the cooperatives, and outfitted them with equipment and technology. During the ribbon cutting ceremony on September 1st, Shizugawa President Norio Sasaki remarked that, “We are very encouraged to recover the fishing industry here. Thank you very much.” President Sasaki and his staff began working immediately at their new location.
Initially after the earthquake and tsunami, Peace Winds provided fisherman with rubber boots, overalls, and other supplies for underwater debris removal. The tsunami destroyed about 85% of Minamisanriku’s fleet, scattering debris throughout its port and fishing terminals. For those boats that were not destroyed, Peace Winds supplied a local shipbuilding company with tools to repair damaged vessels.
Minamisanriku’s fish market reopened in July with help from Peace Winds. Now farmers, fishermen, and consumers have a place to gather, buy, and sell.
The fishing industry has long accounted for a large portion of the economy in Minamisanriku, and economic recovery relies on the town’s most traditional industry. Peace Winds will continue to work closely with Shizugawa Fishing Cooperative and Udatsu Fishing Cooperative to restore livelihoods and tradition in the small coastal town.