The “Now, Here Project” was launched in January 2013. This is an interview with one of the hosting fishing families about the project, Mr Abe Kazuhiro (49) from Fukkiura, Oshika Peninsuka, Ishinomaki, who is specialised in Oyster Farming!
“Now, Here Project”: People need People – Providing Sustainable Support for Ishinomaki’s Fishing Industry
Peace Boat has recently launched the “Now, Here Project”, inspired by the worldwide WWOOF movement. This aims to contribute to the regeneration of the local economy by finding ways to match the needs of the local people with the enthusiasm and energy of young people from outside of the region. The project acts as a liaison between the fishing families who need help with their businesses and people who wish to stay with them and support their farming in return for food and accommodation.
Mr Paul Bilney tells us, “I’m back here in Ishinomaki!”
Paul first came to Ishinomaki all the way from Australia in April last year soon after the disaster struck. A veteran international volunteer, Paul he has now joined Peace Boat’s disaster relief efforts four times, playing an important role in the reconstruction process of Ishinomaki and support of survivors.
Miyagi Prefecture and Ishinomaki in particular are famous for producing the delicacy sea squirts. However, the tsunami greatly affected this industry, with none able to be harvested last year. The Peace Boat fishery and coastal support team has conducted activities to support those committed to the coastal recovery, and reviving the fishing industry. This article explains the process to produce sea squirts.
A new voluntary project has launched since May 2012 in Oshika Peninsula, Ishinomaki City. As a part of the ongoing fishing support, Peace Boat is assisting to paint Tairyo-ki (large colorful flags that symbolizes the wishes for a good catch and safe fishing) on the side-face of containers that have been used as storage.
As the containers are plain brown, they are not a very appealing sight on the landscape, sitting on bare soil. So, in response to a request from fishermen from Koami-Kurahama, Peace Boat agreed to help make these containers instead into a symbol of recovery.
“Oraho’s experience” (“my experience” in Tohoku dialect) is a new volunteer programme launched in 2012, in which participants can interact more with local people in the disaster affected areas by talking, eating, and sleeping together, not just working together. Peace Boat initiated this programme in the hope that participants can gain a rich experience based on direct personal connections with the local community, and that this programme can bring people closer together and inspire more ideas for the future.
This article features an interview with Komori Shizu, a participant in the 2nd program held in Oginohama, and local fisherman Fushimi Kaoru who hosted her.
The fishing village of Funakoshi sits on the northern side of the Ogatsu Peninsula, about a one-hour drive from central Ishinomaki. Today, there is no sight of children at the Funakoshi Primary School, where the 17m-high tsunami flooded up to the 3rd floor. In the school building, however, you can hear the laughter of the ‘Funakoshi Ladies’ in their workshop, furnished with tatami-mats in the hallway.
The ‘Funakoshi Ladies’ now famously make and sell necklaces and cellphone straps made from Ogatsu Stone, as well as “Kai-no-Netsuke (shell charms)”, a popular charm for happiness in marriage.
The first fishing experience programme was held in Sudachi/Fukiura, Ojika Peninsula. The first day was action packed, ranging from an excursion to the Ishinomaki Fish Market, trying gill net fishing, removing oyster shells, a study tour around the community, and exchange with the local fishermen, while the second day was Wakame seaweed harvesting offshore! Participants also participated in workshops entitled “considering the future of the fishing village.” Although the progra,,e was only one night and two days, participants absolutely fell in love with Sudachi/Fukuira. This programme is a new initiative in uncharted territory of “volunteering,” which we hope will provide an opportunity for many people to consider the future of fishing villages in the Tohoku area.
We have received the good news that the wakame seaweed grown in the sea of Ishinomaki over the past 3-4 months will be able to be harvested !
So, we would like to invite volunteers to harvest this together with the local community.
The new project, “Volunteer Experience Fishing in Ishinomaki” mainly focuses on “exchange and experience,” rather than the provision of labour for the harvest. This including spending time together with local fishermen, sharing a homemade dinner on the coast, and and experiencing gill nets.
Miyagi Prefecture is proud to cultivate the second largest volume of oysters in Japan. Volunteers are active helping to collect scallop shells to use for the cultivation of oysters. This is especially important as the recovery of the fishing industry is vital for the local community, yet many local residents working on this are elderly people living in temporary housing or partially damaged houses.