International
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan - Tokyo fishermen lament 'endless' stream of floating pumice stones

On the morning of Nov. 29, fishermen on a boat just outside Ako fishing port on the western part of Miyakejima of the Izu Islands chain had nets in hand. They were scooping up floating pumice the size of grains of rice.

Floating pumice from the eruption of underwater volcano Fukutoku-Okanoba near the Ogasawara Islands has been washing ashore far to the north on the Izu Islands, where booms have been installed to prevent the pumice from flowing into fishing ports. As the fishermen gather up the floating pumice, however, many lament that there seems to be no end in sight to the inflow of volcanic debris.

On the morning of Nov. 29, fishermen on a boat just outside Ako fishing port on the western part of Miyakejima of the Izu Islands chain had nets in hand. They were scooping up floating pumice the size of grains of rice.

They patrolled mainly around concrete wave-dissipating blocks and collected enough pumice that a 1-ton sandbag was overflowing in just 30 minutes. The boat made two more rounds, filling six such sandbags.

On Nov. 20, the Tokyo metropolitan government, which administers the Izu Islands as well as the faraway Ogasawaras, had installed booms at Ako and four other locations on Miyakejima. Since fishing boats pump seawater to cool their engines, if the pumice gets stuck inside, it could cause the engine to overheat.

The booms, however, also prevent fishing vessels from leaving the port.

After the Miyakejima fishermen’s cooperative discussed the matter with the Tokyo metropolitan government, the booms were taken in temporarily so fishing could resume.

“We can’t let pumice enter the port,” said cooperative head Tsunemi Seki, 69, as he watched a fishing boat returning from scooping up pumice. “So we have to do everything we can to minimize the damage.”

The cooperative’s over 300 members remain worried about future developments.

Read more.