Okinawa Defense Bureau begins talks with Okinawa prefectural government regarding endangered coral

Okinawa Defense Bureau begins talks with Okinawa prefectural government regarding endangered coral

Porites okinawensis coral discovered at the planned land reclamation site at Henoko, Nago (from documents prepared by the Okinawa Defense Bureau)


 

September 29, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

 

Regarding the discovery of an endangered species of coral in the sea area that is set to be turned into reclaimed land for the planned construction of a new military base in Henoko, Nago as part of the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture), on September 28, an employee of the Ministry of Defense’s Okinawa Defense Bureau visited the Okinawa Prefectural Office to begin preliminary discussions of a special coral harvesting permission request which the Bureau must obtain in order to proceed with construction.

 

The Defense Bureau has not announced when it will submit the request. The prefectural government will consult with environmental and legal experts to decide on a response.

Heads of relevant departments reported on the situation to Governor Takeshi Onaga at 5 p.m. at his office. Apart from the procedure to request coral harvesting permission, the Defense Bureau plans to visit the governor’s office on September 29 to provide an explanation regarding their “subsequent survey report” relating to their initial environmental impact assessment.

 

The Defense Bureau explained the content of the Environmental Monitoring Committee meeting held on September 27.

The Bureau did not indicate when it will apply for coral harvesting permission, stating only, “we intend to engage in preliminary discussions with the prefectural government and apply promptly as soon as the necessary paperwork is in order.”

 

The standard processing period between when the request is filed and permission is granted is 45 days, and in cases where decision-making is difficult, this period can exceed 45 days.

A representative of the prefectural government’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Fisheries Division, which is in charge of reviewing the harvesting request, stated, “we will demand sufficient explanation and conduct an impartial review based on rules and regulations.”

 

In a survey by the Defense Bureau, a combined total of fourteen colonies of two types of coral on the Ministry of the Environment’s “red list,” porites okinawenses (type 2 endangered) and stylaraea punctata (quasi-endangered), were discovered in the sea area to be reclaimed.

Of these, thirteen colonies are dead or lost, and only one colony survives today.

 

According to the prefectural government’s Department of Civil Engineering and Construction, in the environmental assessment, coral replantation is listed as a condition upon which the new base construction work is predicated.

 

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

 

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