Parliament's research service calls for blanket import ban on Japanese fisheries products

SEOUL, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's parliamentary research service on Thursday recommended a blanket ban on all Japanese fisheries products to ease public concerns over radioactive contamination.

In a daily report, the National Assembly Research Service (NARS) claimed Seoul's decision to bar imports of fisheries products from Fukushima and seven nearby prefectures has not been effective in easing fears of contaminated food entering the market.

The latest concerns come after Japanese authorities confirmed they have been unable to isolate large quantities of radioactive materials from reaching the sea from the devastated Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The partial nuclear reactor meltdown in March 2011 is considered the greatest civil nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

The government ordered the partial import ban on Sept. 6, after a widespread radiation scare caused a sharp drop in the consumption of local fisheries product. Such developments have hurt local fishermen and related industries.

NARS said it is imperative not to let down the country's guard even if radioactive contamination is not being detected in levels that are deemed as health threats.

"It may be advisable to halt all imports until public confidence is restored in regards to Japanese fishery products," it argued, saying such a step will be the most effective action Seoul can take.

The research arm of the National Assembly, meanwhile, called for changes to existing safety rules regulated by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety that have been cited for not allowing the government to respond quickly when food is contaminated.

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