The unseasonably warm weather this winter has set records in the Tohoku region, hurting business at ski resorts but helping other industries.

The warmth has also led to bigger hauls of fish, especially anchovies, with the December catch of the species 45 times larger than usual.

In Iwate Prefecture, 21 of the 34 meteorological observation posts--including those in Morioka, Ofunato and Miyako--did not record a single day below 0 C between December and the end of February. In Morioka, temperatures stayed above freezing through the end of February for the first time since records were first kept there in 1924. In Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, it was the first time that temperatures had stayed so high since the city began keeping records in 1937.

In Maebashi, meanwhile, it was the first time since records began being kept there in 1897 that snow did not accumulate.

Impact on business

Aomori's Aquarium Asamushi also saw a record season, with 12,997 patrons in February, the highest for the month since the aquarium opened in 1983. To counteract a usual decline in visitors when it snows, the aquarium offers a discount that increases with the snowfall. This winter, however, it was only offered twice.

"We'd come up with the idea and done our best with it, but the weather seems to have had a greater effect," an aquarium official said.

In Daigomachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, the Fukuroda waterfall only partially froze this season, as opposed to last winter, when it completely iced over. There were 580,000 visitors to the falls between April and January--100,000 less than the previous year. "People want to see the frozen waterfall," a worker at a nearby hotel said. "The warm winter has had a big effect."

Ski resorts, too, have been affected. Unazuki Onsen Ski Gelande in Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture, experienced the first winter since opening in 1954 in which it did not have a single day of skiing. The resort closed Sunday.

A nordic competition scheduled for Feb. 10-11 in Kusatsumachi, Gunma Prefecture, also was canceled due to the weather.

Fish caught out of season

In the Noto region of Ishikawa Prefecture, fishermen had their peak haul of anchovies months earlier than usual. In December, 908 tons of the fish were caught--45 times the usual for the month. In January, the catch was 447 tons, or 16 times normal. Halfbeaks--a spring catch--also were caught in February for the first time in memory.

However, at Lake Haruna in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, normally popular ice fishing for smelt proved impossible as the lake's ice was too thin, leading to the city putting up notices prohibiting the pastime for the first time since the end of World War II.