Photo/IllutrationFishing boats return to Ukedo fishing port in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 25. (Yosuke Fukudome)

NAMIE, Fukushima Prefecture--Fishing boats returned to their home port on Feb. 25 for the first time in six years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant wreaked havoc here.

The Ukedo fishing port, located seven kilometers north of the nuclear plant, was destroyed by the tsunami caused by the powerful earthquake in March 2011. In addition, nearby areas of the sea were contaminated by radioactive substances discharged from the crippled plant.

Since then, the reconstruction of the port has started and the work is ongoing.

On Feb. 25, 26 fishing boats entered the port to prepare for the start of the fishing season of “kounago,” or young fish of “ikanago” (Japanese sand lance), in mid-March. Fishing is scheduled to resume in waters that are more than 10 km from the nuclear plant.

“This is the first step to return to my life as a fisherman,” said a smiling Ichiro Takano, 69, a third-generation fisherman.