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Old video of washed up shrimp falsely linked to Fukushima wastewater release

Old video of washed up shrimp falsely linked to Fukushima wastewater release - Featured image

Author(s): Clara IP / Zoe LOW / AFP Hong Kong

News articles and social media posts have shared a video of washed up shrimp, falsely saying it shows the creatures on a Chinese shore after being contaminated by wastewater from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. But the clip has circulated online since at least December 2021 and shows shrimp from an overflowing pond, the social media user who uploaded it said.

The video was published here in a news report by Hong Kong media outlet AM730 on August 25.

The headline of the article says in Chinese: “Fukushima nuclear discharge — A large number of prawns appeared unexpectedly on the beaches of Guangdong.”

Guangdong is a coastal province of southeast China that borders Hong Kong and Macau.

“Wow, come and catch shrimp. Wow, a lot of shrimp got washed up,” a man can be heard saying in the 13-second clip.

Screenshots of comments from social media users pop up during the video.

“I’d rather be boiled than polluted with nuclear power,” one says, while another adds: “Rather be eaten than get mutated.”

Screenshots of the misleading news article taken on September 8, 2023

Japan began releasing treated wastewater from its stricken Fukushima plant into the Pacific on August 24, 2023.

China has banned all seafood imports its northern neighbour and condemned the release, despite it being declared safe by the UN nuclear watchdog and other international experts.

The same video was also posted on Chinese video-sharing platforms Douyin, Bilibili and messaging site QQ alongside a similar false claim.

It was also embedded in a news report on the website of Malaysian newspaper Sin Chew Daily published on August 25.

The video, however, predates the Fukushima wastewater release by over a year.

Pond overflow

A keyword search on Douyin found a mirrored version of the video published on December 23, 2021 (archived link).

“I am a fisherman from the Dianbai district of Maoming city in Guangdong province,” reads the bio of the Douyin user who shared the clip (archived link).

The man has frequently uploaded videos of his harvest since June 2021.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the video in one of the false posts (left) and the Douyin video (right):

Screenshot comparisons of the video in the misleading news article (left) and the Douyin video (right)

The same Douyin user said in a post on August 25, 2023 the video of the washed up shrimp is not related to Fukushima (archived link).

A screenshot, taken on September 8, 2023, of the Douyin video

Captions about Fukushima added to his video had misled people, he said.

“The fact of the video is that the water in the shrimp farming pond caused the shrimp to flow out, not the so-called nuclear pollution,” his note reads.

AFP has previously debunked misinformation around the Fukushima wastewater discharge here, here, here and here.

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Originally published here.