After taking photos of a couple of soba restaurants by Kashima Shrine last week for my "tagged" post, I turned the bicycle toward the fishing harbor ("harbour" for my British Empire friends) a few miles away. Not the big industrial port, but a much smaller harbor for fishing boats about 2.5 miles north of that. The air temperature was comfortable, but it was one of those overcast days that make for "contrasty" (i.e. lousy) picture taking.
Along the way, I passed a kindergarten with an unusual relic in the play yard - an old Mitsubishi T-2 supersonic training aircraft. ("And what did you do today in school, Noriko?; finger painting? origami?" - "Get real, Mom, we broke the sound barrier!").
A bit further on I came to the Kashima Cultivation and Fishery Center. K and I had visited here a few weeks ago, but my camera's batteries had died, so I didn't do a post about it at the time.
The plant is run by Ibaraki Prefecture and is about ten years old or so. It is located adjacent to the fishing harbor and its function is to cultivate fish for the local industry. They grow abalone and clams from the plankton stage and flounder and sea bass from eggs. This is not fish farming. They grow these animals to a certain size, then release them into the environment along the coast of Ibaraki in order to keep the populations at sustainable levels.
In the lobby they have some very cool displays with microscopes for viewing the plankton, and computers, video displays, aquariums and so on to explain the work that they do. Schools bring children here on field trips. When we were there, a man came out from the offices and patiently answered lots of questions even though it was just the two of us.
Small tanks outside have samples of the four types of sea life they grow at early to middle stages and you can reach in the tanks to touch them. A large tank with a walking bridge over it holds full grown sea bass and flounder. There were some really big (and delicious looking) specimens in there. We were both fascinated watching the flounders swim - sideways.
K and I only briefly visited the harbor that day, and so while bicycling I spent more time there. It was mid-day, so the boats had all returned and unloaded their catch. The fish market was empty and they were cleaning up. The last trucks were leaving as I approached. Some fishermen/women were laying out nets for the next day.
This place is not at all like the lovely harbor at Santa Barbara, California, with its mix of pleasure craft and fishing boats, where I spent many a vacation in my early years sailing with my brother or on my own, but rather a "strictly business" port for commercial fishers. At Santa Barbara, the breakwater is a modest affair with a pedestrian walk along it. Here, it is a high wall with no hint of the sea on the other side save for the vibration of the pounding waves. No gentle seas protected by the Channel Islands here.
I like harbors and airports. They offer dreams of freedom on the sea or in the air, of adventure and travel. Yes, we over-use our resources, like the fuel for our boats and planes, and we have over-fished the seas, stealing from future generations, but it does not have to be so if we will stop being so greedy (stupid) and think about what is sustainable.
A wind turbine, the fishery's roof to the left, and fishing harbor of Kashima.Above the harbor and the fishery there are giants that flail their arms in the winds. They arrived just last year and dominate the view wherever one looks around Kashima Port and harbor, but they are gentle giants - Kashima's ten new wind turbines, producing 42 Gigawatts of power a year.
Each one of the ten wind turbines is 78 meters (255 feet) tall. The 2,000kW units are manufactured by Gamesa Eolica, S.A. in Spain. The rotors have a diameter of 80 meters (262 feet) - think "jumbo jet" size. At their highest point, the blades reach 118 meters (390 feet), equivalent to a 30-story building. The blades and nacelles were imported from Spain, and the towers from South Korea, brought in through the port of Kashima. They were transported to the site after midnight, using a specially designed trailer. The wind turbines were erected using a crawler crane with a lifting capacity of 450 metric tons, with which the 75-ton nacelles and 44-ton blades were installed.
These are not the same machines I wrote about in "Hasaki Power - Tilting At Windmills" back in 2005. Those are to our south in Hasaki (now part of Kamisu City).
As I watched a fishing boat back up to the fuel depot, I noticed the top of Kashima Soccer Stadium (in the left of the picture) and realizing I would pass that on my way home, I had a long uphill ride ahead of me and best be on my way.
We humans have gotten into a bind with regard to resources and the environment and fighting over those resources. If we are careful and frugal we can work with each other and with nature toward a sustainable future, as with the fishery and the wind turbines. If not, we may go the way of many past civilizations - Sumeria, Greece, Rome, the Maya, even China for much of its history, Rapa Nui, Nauru (there is modern tragedy), to name a few. Civilizations that overshot the carrying capacity of their environmental systems, or simply destroyed them. Many of them just disappeared, perhaps while thinking that sacrifices to their gods would save them.
I sometimes wonder about the ancients of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and what they were thinking as they cut down the very last tree in order to move the last Moai (their great stone statues) into place.
We have our religion too: technology. We think it will save us, that we are smarter than those who came before us, that their fate can't happen to us. But technology is only a means to help us manage resources, not a substitute for them. We have amassed a great deal of knowledge through science, but the real question is, do we have the required wisdom? Frankly, our track record isn't so good.
So the answer, my friend, is still "flounder"-ing in the wind.