October 9, 2012 (Tokyo): Qatar Friendship Fund (QFF) is soon to open the doors to its first mega-project, "Maskar", a multifunctional fishery processing facility in Onagawa. The opening ceremony of "Maskar" is set for 13th October 2012 and will be attended by senior dignitaries from Japan and Qatar. The role of QFF is to spearhead rehabilitation efforts in Japan, with special focus on child education, healthcare and fisheries and this initiative represents a significant milestone in the work of QFF.
Many coastal towns in Japan were devastated by the 2011 Great East Earthquake and Tsunami disaster. This led to critical damage to the lucrative fishing industry resulting in widespread unemployment and economic downturn. In Onagawa alone, 70% of the fishery infrastructure was destroyed. This was alarming considering that over 70% of the people of Onagawa were previously employed in industry related to the fisheries.
Reviving the fishing industry is now key to reversing this, and QFF, has prioritized the rebuilding of this industry. Under the leadership of H.E the Minister of State For Foreign Affairs, Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, QFF announced last April its commitment towards the implementation of its first mega-project, a USD 24.3 million-fishery project in Onagawa. The project has now reached completion marking a significant step forward for QFF and thousands who will benefit in the local Japanese fishing industry.
The project is also remarkable in that it sets new global benchmarks. The processing facility, which is called "Maskar" after a traditional Qatari fishing method, will be the world's first Tsunami-prepared fishery facility. The 7,760 square meter multifunctional fishery-processing centre will contain sorting, refrigeration, and storage facilities. In addition, it will benefit about 7,500 fishermen and house more than 40 local companies.
The rehabilitation of Onagawa's fishing industry is significant as it is a major supplier to the Japanese market. A significant 60% of silver salmon and ascidian, popular ingredients in Japanese cuisine, originate from Onagawa's fisheries. The facility is anticipated to generate a market value and spillover effect of 67.3 billion yen and will be a significant catalyst to the resurgence of a strong and sustainable local fishing industry.
The gesture of partnering with Japan in key reconstruction projects is a strong symbol of the understanding and friendship between the nations of Qatar and Japan. Another five new projects are already underway in the fields of education, health and fisheries and the role of QFF will be to drive long-term sustainability yielding tangible benefits to communities in need in Japan.