I thought I wouldn’t get a second post this month, but Japanese news to the rescue.
The first article was something I saw on the evening news but had trouble tracking down in the English-language press.
From the Tokyo Reporter http://www.tokyoreporter.com/2016/11/23/hokkaido-cops-200-hatchery-salmon-cut-open-eggs-stolen/
(That page contains ads that may be inappropriate, so I’ve copied the entire content here)
Hokkaido cops: 200 hatchery salmon cut open, eggs stolen
HOKKAIDO (TR) – Some 200 salmon cut open with their eggs removed were dumped in a river near a salmon hatchery, police said on Monday, amid rising salmon roe prices due to a poor fishing season.
The slain fish were found by a worker at the Shibetsu River Hatchery on Sunday morning in Shibetsu City, Hokkaido, TV Asahi reports (Nov. 21).
The stomachs of about 200 to 300 female salmon containing a total of some 100 kilograms of eggs were cut out and stolen, hatchery officials said, in what police are investigating as a case of suspected theft.
Police suspect the crime occurred sometime between 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the hatchery, which raises salmon on fenceless grounds accessible by anyone, NHK reported.
Yoshifumi Shimoshi, vice president of the hatchery, said he was “frustrated because those salmon were being raised for the hatchery business. I hope the culprit is quickly caught.”
“We have to do something so people can’t get in here,” Shimoshi said.
The hatchery was planning to hatch the eggs and raise them before releasing them next year.
Ikura salmon roe prices have been on the rise this fall, stemming from a poor salmon fishing season.
Comment: Fish farming is probably the only sustainable form of fisheries. My family participated in a project to re-establish salmon populations in a local river by hatching salmon eggs and releasing the fry into the river.
I hope the culprits get caught and get whatever is coming to them…
The second article has been doing the rounds, mostly because it falls into the “crazy Japan” category, something which should always be approached with caution. (If you have recently read that roadworkers fixed a sinkhole in just two days, you’ve been reading a lie – it took just over a week) Again, the site content is a bit dodgy. http://www.tokyoreporter.com/2016/11/27/fukuoka-theme-park-draws-ire-over-5000-fish-frozen-into-ice-skate-rink/
Fukuoka theme park draws ire over 5,000 fish frozen into ice skate rink
FUKUOKA (TR) – A theme park in Kitakyushu City is facing a growing tide of criticism over its educational attraction featuring some 5,000 sea creatures frozen into an ice rink in what it boasts to be a world-first — and possibly Japan’s last.
Space World, described as a “theme park all about space” by the Japan National Tourism Organization, launched the “Freezing Port” event for its existing ice rink on November 12 as a limited winter and spring exhibition to educate visitors about marine life.
Park visitors can rent ice skates and glide over a wide variety of fish and shellfish frozen into the ice in different zones, according to the official web site, including a section featuring enlarged photos of bigger creatures such as whale sharks that some mistook to be real.
Many of the fish used for the attractions were unfit for retail sale and sourced from public fish markets, a Space World official said.
‘Attraction both unseen and unheard of’
The theme park promised in October that visitors would have a “chance to enjoy skating under unreal conditions at an attraction both unseen and unheard of” in what is “not only a Japan-first, but undeniably a world-first.”
But an initially cautious reception quickly turned to dismay and anger after the theme park began posting preview photos of the ice rink on its Facebook page on October 26, accompanied by what many criticized as inappropriate captions.
Netizens were particularly vocal about a caption for a “Part.7” November 7 photo showing bodies of fish half-frozen into the ice rink that read “I’m d..d..drowning…It h…h..hurts…,” with one comment saying the park shouldn’t “make life into a toy.”
In another photo post dated November 8, visitors urged others to boycott the park while others condemned the attraction as an “insult to life” and urged the park to “go out of business.”
Official: Live fish not used
Space World continued to preview the attraction despite mounting criticism with a final “Part.11” photo on November 11, which drew over 100 comments expressing varying degrees of shock and shame –– including a claim that the attraction was gaining attention in China as “Japan’s vulgar theme park.”
An official from Space World’s public relations department confirmed to news site Netlabo that the park has “received lots of opinions on sites like Twitter, and some have even contacted us directly.”
The official denied allegations that the park used live fish for the ice rink.
“The real fish we used were provided wholesale from public fish markets, and these fish sellers are all aware of the purpose of this project,” the public relations department official said. “Many of these fish don’t meet standards for selling to customers. And the big fish like whale sharks, sharks, and rays aren’t real, they’re simply photos that were blown up and embedded in the ice.”
When asked to explain what the project is about, Space World said it “wanted people to interact with the creatures of the sea…The attraction is divided into multiple zones, including a ‘deep sea zone,’ with accompanying explanations about the kinds of fish on display.”
The official said reactions from visitors “have been favorable. It seems like children are having a particularly good time.”
Reports of blood in ice
Regarding reports that blood was seeping into the ice and bodies of fish were sticking out, the official said the cause was “probably ice melting when the attraction launched.”
“As for the exposed fish, we believe it’s not a case of ice skate blades scratching and damaging them, they wouldn’t be damaged unless there was intentional digging of the ice or kicking of the fish,” the official said. “But this is the first staging for us as well, so we think there was a lack of experience there.”
Asked if the theme park thought the “drowning” caption had any issues, the official replied: “Another employee wrote that hoping people would find it funny. But I do feel that not enough caution was taken. I apologize.”
There are “no current plans” to shutter the attraction, the official said. “For me personally, I believe people will understand if they come visit, so I would ask them to please visit the link when they have a chance.”
‘Memorial service for the fish’
Regarding the fate of the fish in the ice, the official said the company is “investigating what we’ll do with them afterward. The whole purpose of the project is to have people experience the world of the ocean, including the lives of the fish within, so it’s also been proposed to hold a memorial service for the fish who worked hard for us.”
The official concluded by saying that people would “understand the intention of this project if they actually came to visit. This is a first for us as well so there was some lack of experience in some areas, but if people would have a correct understanding of the purpose of the exhibition…”
A user questioned the official’s remarks in the November 11 photo by saying: “A PR official from Space World said, ‘This project is based on wanting people to interact with the creatures of the sea,’ but just how many people did they expect would say, ‘Wow! I’m right up close with the creatures of the sea!’ when they’re gliding over bodies of frozen fish? I’m having trouble understanding this. All of these comments reflect what society thinks about this event. I would appreciate this message getting across even a little to the organizer.”
Comment: Once we digest (yes, pun intended) the information that the fish were already dead and were unsellable rejects from the market (caveat: Japanese food markets tend to be very particular about appearance, and perfectly edible products are often rejected on grounds of appearance), I’m still baffled. How does freezing thousands of dead fish in a skating rink educate people about marine life? There was a VERY good reason this kind of attraction had never been seen before – it was an utterly stupid idea!!
I find the trend of actual aquariums using projection mapping to project images of blossoming cherry trees and fireworks onto aquaria odd (and annoying), but this is simply bizarre.
Typical of officialdom, there is the standard attempt to explain the complaints away as a misunderstanding on behalf of the people who were offended…
As a final thought, the comment that the park was gaining infamy in China (gasp!) was probably the killing blow.
And I wonder if the theme park ever got around to that memorial service…
UPDATE: Space World management has announced that the park will close on the last day of December, 2017.
The closure is probably unrelated to the fish in the rink.