Donations from the members made it possible! "Fishing boats of hope" given to tsunami-hit fishermen in Omoe
"Let's donate fishing boats to Omoe! Let's monitor radioactivity in our food!" This was the slogan created by the Seikatsu Club Consumers' Co-operative Union (SCCCU) to encourage its members to make donations for the survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake for the second time since the disaster. Utilizing a total donation of 232.79 million yen, SCCCU is carrying out various activities to support its producers who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami. As part of these activities, SCCCU has donated 50 million yen to the Omoe Fisheries Co-operative to help them buy fishing boats. On May 17th, “Dai-ni Yonamaru”, the first boat given by SCCCU, arrived in Omoe. (Posted on June 1st, 2012, Photos: Masami Tajima）
The First of Three Boats Arrives in Omoe
From the pier at the former Miyako Fish Market at Miyako Port, Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture, a brand-new fishing boat set sail at 1 p.m. on May 17th. This boat is named the “Dai-ni Yonamaru” (19 tons), and will be used for fixed-net fishing by the Omoe Fishery Co-operative. This was just after the launch of the boat on April 26th in Ofunato City, where the boat was built. A video of the launching ceremony is posted below.
The Omoe Fishery Co-operative was damaged by the tsunami following the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11th March 2011. It lost 800 out of 814 small Japanese-style outboards, and 10 out of 20 boats for fixed-net fishing. As SCCCU has been working with the fishery co-operative through the collective purchase of “Niku-atsu Wakame” (fleshy wakame seaweed), it encouraged its members to make donations from September to December last year, under the slogan of “Let’s send fishing boats to Omoe”. This was the second donation campaign since the earthquake. The donation amounted to 50 million yen and was presented to the Omoe Fishery Co-operative to help them buy new boats.
The Dai-ni Yonamaru is the first fixed-net fishing boat to be built using the donations. The fishery co-operative needed to cover only one ninth of the total cost of 150 million yen while the rest is covered by national and prefectural government subsidies for reconstruction. Making use of the donations, the co-operative has ordered two more boats. The second boat is scheduled to be built by September 2012, and the third by March 2013.
“This is a very rare case, and it is very greatly appreciated. It can be said that this is one of the best examples of “Co-operation among Co-operatives”, * which is firmly in line with the International Year of Co-operatives,” said an official of Iwate Prefectural Government (Fisheries Promotion Division, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department) referring to this case in which members of a consumers’ co-operative have donated fishing boats to a disaster-hit fishery co-operative they have been working with since before the earthquake disaster.
* 6th Principle of the Statement on the Co-operative Identity
Boats as a Message of Walking Side by Side
Members of the Seikatsu Club Consumers' Co-operative Iwate and staff members of SCCCU who have been assisting Omoe Fishery Co-operative since just after the earthquake were on board when the Dai-ni Yonamaru left Miyako Port at 1:00 p.m. on May 17. From the ocean, they prayed toward Kurosaki Shrine for safe journeys and bountiful hauls of fish. Another fixed-net fishing boat, the "Dai-ni Konryumaru", then led the Dai-ni Yonamaru to three fishing grounds where fishing nets are fixed, and finally headed for Omoe Port, where the ship-accompanying ceremony was held. There is a custom in Omoe that a newly-built boat is accompanied to fishing grounds by an experienced boat.
More than 60 people, including fishermen who work with the Seikatsu Club, participated in the ceremony, which started a little after 2 p.m. "We managed to retrieve and repair ten boats that were swept away by the tsunami, but we still need more boats," said Ryuichi Itoh, President of the Omoe Fishery Co-operative, on behalf of the organizers. "With support from the Seikatsu Club, we have been given the opportunity to build three boats. They are truly boats of hope that represent the rebirth of Omoe."
Koichi Kato, chairperson of SCCCU, was invited to the ceremony as a guest and delivered a congratulatory speech. "We asked Omoe to buy boats utilizing our donations because we wanted to have a concrete symbol that expressed the dreams of our members," said Kato. "We are overjoyed that this has actually become a reality. We look forward to future collective purchases of fish caught with the fixed nets and the strengthening of our collaboration."
It has now been 14 months since the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. In the affected areas where serious damage still remains, people are working steadily to overcome the difficulties. Members of the Seikatsu Club have donated these three fishing boats to Omoe in order to show that they are sending their cheers of encouragement to the survivors of the disaster. This strong message from members of the Seikatsu Club also expresses their wish to continue walking side by side with the people of Omoe.