Because it takes decades for radionuclides to decay, fishing off Fukushima is likely to remain prohibited for many years. Exactly how long is uncertain, especially as the Tokyo Electric Power Company continues to struggle to contain and clean up millions of liters of contaminated waters at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. And local waterways continue to wash radionuclides out to sea. "For the record, I was in Japan this past July and ate all types of seafood," says Buessler, who will hold a public colloquium on the findings November 14 at the University of Tokyo with colleagues. "The fisheries data like [those] shown here are used to keep certain areas and types of fish out of the markets. The question we can't answer is when will this no longer be of concern."
*Correction (10/26/12): It is 40 percent of bottom-dwelling fish, not all fish, caught near Fukushima that bear concentrations above Japanese safety standards.