Cormorant fishing season opens without Covid restrictions

The opening night of seasonal traditional fishing using trained waterfowl along the Nagara River in central Japan was enjoyed by many visitors.

It was held for the first time in five years without any Covid-19 restrictions.

It is a tradition dating back more than 1,300 years in which fishers in Gifu city use cormorants to catch sweetfish.

The performance began at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday with fishers wearing traditional attire on board their boats fitted with torches.

The birds are guided on rope leashes as they catch fish.

The performance culminated with six boats working in unison to chase fish into shallow waters.

Spectators on observation boats, feeling a gentle, mystical night breeze, watched the cormorants ply the river for fish.

Gifu City officials said the Covid-19 pandemic had forced them to close or limit the number of spectators, but this year visitors were able to experience the performance in its original format.

The event is scheduled to be held through October 15.
City officials expect it will draw 90,000 visitors, the largest number since 2020.

A tourist from western Japan's Okayama Prefecture said she thoroughly enjoyed the performance as it was her first time. She said it was such a rare opportunity to see cormorants deftly catching fish.