Assisted after the tsunami by local Japanese, many of whose homes and livelihoods had been washed away, anti-whaling activist Scott West from Sea Shepherd returned in May to Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture to further photograph the destruction.
According to Iwate Prefecture data, the prefecture harvested 933 tons of marine mammals in 2007, with 263 tons from Otsuchi and 389 tons from Yamada, its northern neighbor. In 2009, Iwate pulled in 866 tons out of a total of 1404 tons from Japan.
Two months after the earthquake and tsunami, Otsuchi is struggling to survive. As of May 16, of the 15,239 residents before the tsunami, 1044 remained missing, 680 bodies had been found, and 2247 residents still slept on the floors of school gymnasiums and refugee centers. Soldiers still pulled about a dozen bodies a day out of the rubble. Simply clearing away the debris will take more than a year and restarting the local economy is a distant prospect. All of oyster, scallop and seaweed farms, and he canneries and seafood-processing plants along the wharfs were destroyed by the tsunami.
The average annual income in Otsuchi is $21,000, about 60% of the national average.
In response to Sea Shepherd's latest filming expedition, an elderly local fishery worker complained, "Before the earthquake, they photographed work on board boats. They even filmed sailfish processing that is unrelated to dophins. Now I wish they would quit their trouble-making." The Iwate Prefecture fisheries recovery office stated, "Most of the boats having dolphin fishing licenses were damaged and processing plants were devastated. The survival of fish themselves is in crisis. Is there anything left to photograph?"
Kohoku Online Network, 2011/5/20, http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2011/05/20110520t33018.htm (Accessed 2011/5/21)
Martin Fackler, "Before It Can Rebuild, Japanese Town Must Survive," New York Times, 2011/5/16, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/16/world/asia/16recovery.html (Accessed 2011/5/21)
Dan Satherley, "Sea Shepherd activists narrowly escape tsunami," 3 News, 2011/3/16, http://www.3news.co.nz/Sea-Shepherd-activists-narrowly-escape-tsunami/tabid/1160/articleID/202566/Default.aspx (Accessed 2011/5/21)
"Sea Shepherd Returns to Japan," Sea Shepherd News, 2011/5/4, http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/news-110504-1.html (Accessed 2011/5/21)