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Home > Outline of Japan's Industrial Pollution Abatement > Approaches to Water Pollution Control (Case Study-2) Minamata City, Kumamoto Prefecture > (3) Damage Compensation and Remedial Responses for Fisheries

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Update:April 1, 2010

(3) Damage Compensation and Remedial Responses for Fisheries

2.Mercury Poisoning and Control Responses

As problems caused by the disease became intensified, the fishing industry has been seriously depressed in the vicinity of Minamata Bay. For the relief of fishermen, Kumamoto Prefecture introduced a relief loan system where in this "Household Recovery Fund" is applied together with vocational consultation to help the fishermen find other employment,
In a parallel move, they carried out a series of fishery promotion measures in the late 1950's. They implemented the "Marine Farm Project" to encourage the change of target species and launched this into another fishing zone (Kagoshima Prefecture) in 1957. They constructed artificial fishing reefs and shores in 1958. In 1959, they started giving guidance and recommendation to the fishermen to introduce inshore fishery and pearl culture.
Marine products from Minamata Bay were boycotted by the Fishery Products Retailers' Association in 1959. Then, the financially distressed fishermen claimed for damages against Chisso. Since the cause of the disease had not yet hen discovered, little progress was made in these negotiations, which finally escalated into a conflict, In November 1959, the Shiranui Fishery Dispute Mediation Committee was organized, and they conducted mediations on installation of factory effluent purifier, damage compensation, and financial support for the commercial recovery of the fishermen.
Despite the intention of Kumamoto Prefecture, restriction of fishing activities in Minamata Bay has not been realized in the absence of the positive proof of contamination of all fish and shellfish in the bay. Instead of that, Kumamoto Prefecture has been providing administrative guidances since 1956 to recommend that residents minimize consumption of seafood from Minamata Bay and to advise the fishermen's cooperative association to restrain themselves from fishing operation. However, prefectural measures have been inconsistent according to the self-imposed control taken by the fishermen's cooperative association (See Table 3-2).
As seafood sales became significantly depressed, Kumamoto Prefecture installed partition nets at the mouth of the bay in 1988 to enclose fish and shellfish inhabiting there. Together with the above, polluted fish and shellfish were caught and disposed.
Following the dredging of intensively mercury-poisoned bottom sludge, different species of fish and shellfish were sampled and analyzed in 1990, The species containing mercury exceeding the provisional standard level were caught and disposed at the same time with a follow-up survey.
For fishery compensation, Chisso paid 140 million yen in 1956 and 3.93 billion yen within the years, 1973 and 1974.