By Jun Kobayashi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterMIYAZAKI — Fishing for Ise-ebi lobsters is at its peak, and the Futo fishing port in Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture, a major landing center for the lobsters in the prefecture, is brimming with energy as fishermen shout in loud voices.
Ise-ebi lobsters landed at the port are a popular luxury item. Their meat has a firm texture as a result of the lobsters being tossed by waves in the Hyuganada sea off the prefecture.
A seasonal ban on lobster fishing was lifted throughout the prefecture on Sept. 1.
Fishermen placed nets on a rocky area 500 meters offshore on the previous day and lifted them from the sea before dawn. After returning to port, they removed lobsters from the nets.
The city’s annual catch of the lobsters has recovered in recent years after a slump. In 2012, the catch declined to 13.9 tons but it has risen gradually since 2013, totaling 22.2 tons in 2015.
To protect marine resources, fishermen in the city voluntarily return lobsters up to 17 centimeters long to the sea. This is two centimeters larger than the fishery regulation set by the prefecture. Lobster fishing season continues through April 14.
Yasuhiko Takahashi, a 39-year-old fisherman based at the Futo fishing port, opened a restaurant called Horyomaru near the port two years ago to offer seasonal cuisine by serving freshly caught Ise-ebi lobsters.
Takahashi made a wide cut into a large lobster and grilled it on a charcoal stove for four or five minutes. When I tasted it without seasoning, the smell and flavor of the sea filled my mouth and the sweet taste of its firm meat followed.
“I hope this year’s annual catch will exceed last year’s, so many people can taste fresh Ise-ebi lobsters,” Takahashi said.
Fifteen facilities in Nichinan, including eateries and hotels, are offering special dishes and affordable course menus featuring the lobsters during the Ise-ebi festival on the Nichinan coast, which will last through Nov. 30.
Grilled Ise-ebi lobsters are highly recommended. Prices are divided into six categories by size, ranging from ¥1,500 to ¥4,000, excluding tax. Ise-ebi lobster sashimi is also offered. The Ise-ebi lobsters are available from September to around February.
Address: 1726, Futo, Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture
(About 40 minutes by car on National Highway Route 220 from central Miyazaki city)
Open: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Closed: Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Tel: (0987) 67-5299 (in Japanese only)
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