Endo-san @ Shizugawa Fishing Cooperatives
Dear GlobalGiving PWA Fishery Project Supporters:
In my previous report, we announced the end of the Fisheries Support GlobalGiving Project, however, just as we put the report online we were contacted by the Fishing Cooperative in Shizugawa, Minamisanriku, who asked PWA to help them with building a windshield fence for their Oyster Processing facility to improve their working environment. PWA answered the call, and we wanted to report this activity to you. We are very happy that we were able to respond and be involved in this project as PWA has been working so closely with Shizugawa Fishing Cooperative for the past two years.
Oyster farming is a primary fishing industry in Minamisanriku. Before the tsunami, there were 43 oyster-farming families who brought in about 12 percent of the total fishing revenue of the Shizugawa Cooperative.
Processed oysters (those with their shells removed, then cleaned and packaged) are heavily favored by Japanese consumers. However processing requires a specialized facility with sterilization equipment and skilled labor. In spite of the these production costs, since processed oysters command a much higher market price, the net value to the farmer is considerably more than oysters in the shell.
The tsunami destroyed not only oyster farming/harvesting equipment, but also all the processing facilities in Shizugawa. In 2011, oyster farmers lost the sales income of processed oysters, as the farmers were unable to rebuild and start the processing facility.
Secure employment for women:
Oyster farming and harvesting is typically done by men. Oyster processing is primarily done by women, and provides them with an income opportunity rare in the Minamisanriku region. Currently there are 23 women working at the processing facility.
Adapt to the new environment:
The oyster season begins in October and runs through the frigid winter ending in May. Winter processing is especially severe. The high winds created an unexpected issue for the workers at this new facility. Before the 3/11 disaster, the destroyed processing facility was situated among multi-story buildings, but now the new facility is close to the mouth of a river, with no buildings near. Strong, cold mountain winds follow the river’s course and directly strike the factory and the workers. Due to food hygiene regulations, heaters cannot be used while processing oysters. People working at this facility suffer from freezing wind.
In order to resolve these intolerable working conditions, Shizugawa Fishing Cooperatives addressed the need of the windshield and PWA supported the project financially.
Voice from a beneficiary:
Head of Oyster Group, Katsuhiko Endo
"Thank you very much for constructing the wind shield. It is really helpful, and will aid us immensely as we shell the oysters. Although It is gradually getting warm during the day, the temperature in the early morning, when we are shelling oysters, is still very cold. Today's temperature in the morning was 3 degrees Celsius. We are still happy the shield is now ready, as there are also many windy days in April. In the coming fall, we will be ready to start or work for the next season. We will do our best,"
This facility and windbreak will function for ten years or more, aiding particularly the livelihoods of women and contributing to Minamisanriku’s economy and well-being.
Thank you GlobalGiving supporters!
Oyster Processing Facility without wind shield
Inside of the Oyster Processing Facility
No more cold gusty winds! Wind shield completed!