OMITAMA, Ibaraki -- Heaps of fish, which officials suspect anglers illegally released, have been found dead after draining water from an agricultural reservoir in this eastern Japan city.
According to the Omitama Municipal Government's agricultural policy division, the city started to drain water from the about 55-hectare agricultural reservoir in early September to conduct bank protection work, and huge amounts of black bass and carp, which died due to lack of oxygen, began to appear on the evening of Sept. 15.
As workers kept draining the water, the number of dead fish further increased and the stench worsened. As the pond is surrounded by a residential area, many people have complained about the odor, and the city government has already incinerated 2 metric tons of the fish in a bid to deal with the problem.
Sources including the agricultural policy division say the reservoir was filled with natural spring water and no streams flow into it, so no fish should inhabit the pond. A few fish were previously found in the reservoir, but they disappeared following levee protection work in 2011. Anglers are suspected to have deposited the fish in the pond, possibly bringing them in from nearby Lake Kasumigaura. A wooden pier has also been set up along a bank of the pond, apparently by anglers without permission. A nearby resident commented, "I can't dry my washing outdoors (due to the stench). Releasing them (the fish) is troublesome."
The head of an organization managing the reservoir said with a look of resignation, "We placed a sign there to ban fishing because it would cause trouble if an accident occurred, but it was not effective."
A city government official said, "We'd like to swiftly respond to stop the stench. We want people to stay away from the reservoir because the banks are dangerous to walk on."
(Japanese original by Toru Morinaga, Mito Bureau)