The Ofunato Fish Retailer Association in Iwate prefecture is an organization of about 50 small fish shops in the town of Ofunato. The Association’s building and equipment were swept away by the tsunami. As a result, reliable income was urgently required for members to start rebuilding their businesses – particularly with the approach of the sanma fishing season. The sanma, also known as the Pacific Saury, or ‘mackerel pike’, is of great economic and nutritional value to the region – and for many Japanese, sanma forms part of their traditional autumn diet.
The JTI Foundation joined forces with Peace Winds Japan (PWJ), to help revitalize the local economy dependent on fishing. PWJ worked with the Association to rebuild what had been lost. Part of this effort included the construction of a temporary site for the processing of sanma, which was then distributed via mail order to consumers all over Japan.
The project had a positive impact on those employed in the fishing business – including 49 small fishshop owners, local suppliers and hundreds of family members of those involved. This in turn created significant economic momentum in the region as a whole.