Jul 7, 2011
This handout photo taken and released by French shipping company SDV on July 6, 2011 shows containers of floats and ropes for the cultivation of oysters, in a cargo yard at Narita international airport. The equipment for the farmed oysters arrived from Paris and will transported to the Kesennuma and Miyako earthquake disaster sites. -- PHOTO: AFP
TOKYO - TWICE in the past 40 years, French oyster farmers were saved by their colleagues on Japan's northern Pacific coast. After the March 11 tsunami, they decided it was time to return the favour.
This week they kicked off an aid effort to help oyster growers who lost everything when the seabed quake sent a massive tsunami barrelling into Japan's north-east, destroying entire towns - and their livelihoods.
A seven-tonne shipment of oyster farm equipment - buoys, ropes and fishermen's clothing - arrived from Charente-Maritime and Brittany in western France at Tokyo's Narita International airport on Wednesday.
The gear will be trucked to the Sanriku region, where oyster farmers hoping to rebuild their world-famous industry must hurry to kick off the growth cycle for oysters by the middle of the month.
'It's a race against time,' said Arnaud Rastoul, director of logistics company SDV, in charge of transporting the material. To start off a new generation of oysters, farmers must suspend ropes fitted with shells in the ocean. These attract larvae or embryos that will grow into food oysters within three years.
Operation 'France o-kaeshi' (France returns the gift) recalls those times in 1970 and 1990 when disease outbreaks wrecked French oyster farms, and Japanese growers provided larvae to help them start again. -- AFP