Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

World's biggest fish market set for new home
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 01, 2014

The world's largest fish market at Tsukiji in Tokyo. (AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

As most of Tokyo sleeps, men in rubber boots haggle over tuna in the cavernous halls of Tsukiji market.

The clang of a bell around 5:30 am kicks off the action at the world's biggest fish emporium. Traders flash hand signs and bellow out prices as they buy and sell what will soon end up on plates in the Japanese capital and beyond.

Fins are lopped off to expose the red flesh among rows and rows of the hulking tuna carcasses, which are still moved around the market by wooden cart.

In all, about $18 million worth of fish, seafood and vegetables -- over 2,900 tons -- change hands each day at the market.

"Do you see how we use hand signs?" asks one bidder, seconds after another man violently rings the bell and starts yelling out bids.

"This is exactly how people used to trade stocks in the old days."

Major stock markets have shifted to computer trading while Tokyo mushroomed into one of the world's biggest cities over the decades, but little has changed in the way business is done at Tsukiji since its opening in 1935.

Now, almost 80 years later, the city plans to move the market to a new location and give the popular tourist draw what advocates say is a badly-need technological update.

But not everyone is happy about the move away from prime-real estate in the centre of the teeming metropolis.

Relocating the market and building to a modern facility about 40 percent larger with state-of-the-art refrigeration will cost upwards of $3.8 billion.

And the move, now scheduled for 2016, has been marred by revelations of heavy soil contamination at the site, once formerly a gas plant about 2.3 kilometres away (1.4 miles).

That has saddled Tokyo with more than half a billion dollars in cleanup costs at the less-than-central location.

It is unclear what will happen to the current site beyond building a new road linking downtown with some 2020 Olympic Games venues.

'Totally outdated'

Hiroyasu Ito, chairman of the Seafood Wholesalers' Association, insists the move is crucial for Tsukiji to handle modern-day demands for freshness.

"Railroad freight cars used to roll into the market and unload fish and goods right here," he says, pointing to a large picture in his office that gives a birds-eye view of Tsukiji's layout.

"We don't use the rail cars anymore. Now refrigerated trucks drive around instead."

Key to ensuring perishable goods stay fresh is a so-called cold chain which maintains produce at a consistent temperature until consumers buy it, something the market is ill-equipped to do, Ito says.

"Customers want fresher and fresher seafood so that they can eat it raw, which puts pressure on us. Delivery people have had to come up with high-tech cooling methods," he says.

"We have managed to keep the fish cold in high-quality foam coolers. But we're pushing the limit -- Tsukiji is totally outdated.

"In the new facility, we plan to shut out air from the outside and keep the fish section at a steady temperature."

But the move to a scrubbed-clean market farther away from downtown is not popular with some shoppers.

"The messy and crowded scenes at Tsukiji are what makes the place attractive," said out-of-town visitor Tetsuya Kojima, who added that he was unlikely to visit the new site.

Some of the old guard are not about to leave quietly either.

Union member Makoto Nakazawa, a leader in the fight to stop Tsukiji's move, lashes out at what he sees as profit trumping all else.

"Tokyo wants to move the market to satisfy the greed of real-estate interests here -- I cannot think of another reason," says Nakazawa, who has organised small demonstrations in protest.

Soil contamination, whopping bills

The 40 hectares of land earmarked for the new market is soaked with toxic chemicals, the legacy of its previous life as a gas plant.

Opponents have filed lawsuits over the city's purchase of the land without requiring Tokyo Gas to clean up its former site. That means taxpayers will shoulder the hefty 58.6 billion yen cleanup.

And the bill could still grow.

Labour and materials prices are shooting up with contractors in short supply as they focus on quake-tsunami disaster reconstruction projects and building for the Olympics in seven years.

Still, the municipal government says it is pushing ahead with plans to uproot Tsukiji and erect the new market by March 2016, about a year later than previously scheduled.

"We are aware of a number of difficulties," says Masataka Shimura, a Tokyo official leading the new market project.

"But we're still planning to do the move as scheduled."


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Deepwater Horizon NRDA study shows possible oil impact on dolphins
Washington DC (SPX) Dec 23, 2013
Bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana's Barataria Bay have lung damage and adrenal hormone abnormalities not previously seen in other dolphin populations, according to a new peer-reviewed study published Dec. 18, 2013 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The Deepwater Horizon spill heavily oiled Barataria Bay. The study was conducted in August 2011 as part of the Natural Resourc ... read more

Iran vows to restore glory of quake-hit Bam citadel

Hundreds of corpses unburied after Philippine typhoon

Brazil vows better flood alert systems

Christmas in mud as rain pelts Philippine disaster zone

New computer memory can hold data 20 years without power

Scientific data lost at alarming rate

Europe's Gaia telescope detaches from Fregat-MT upper stage

Sailing satellites into safe retirement

Los Angeles likely to score driest year since record-keeping began

Major reductions in seafloor marine life from climate change by 2100

World's biggest fish market set for new home

Deepwater Horizon NRDA study shows possible oil impact on dolphins

5,000 polar bears expected to be born around New Year's

Final amnestied foreign Greenpeace activist leaves Russia

Antarctic ship rescue set to start: authorities

Anxious wait for stranded Antarctic ship

To grow or to defend: How plants decide

Extinction risk prompts ban on fishing for caviar-producing sturgeon

The fate of the eels

Genetic discovery points the way to much bigger yields in tomato, other flowering food plants

6.6 magnitude Pacific quake, no tsunami threat: US geologists

Powerful cyclone bears down on western Australia

19,000 Indonesians flee erupting volcano

Flood displaces 18,000 in Indonesia

French defence minister in Africa's Sahel for security talks

S.Sudan president, rebel chief due in Ethiopia for peace talks: Addis Ababa

DR Congo arrests rebel leader accused of war crimes

Outside View: Memories of Mandela's Christmas in prison

What Does Compassion Sound Like?

Texting may be good for your health

Finnish research team reveals how emotions are mapped in the body

Brain connections may explain why girls mature faster

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement