National government starts coral transplantation, ignores authorization conditions from OPG

National government starts coral transplantation, ignores authorization conditions from OPG

July 30, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


On July 29 the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) started work on transplanting approximately 40,000 coral colonies consisting of various varieties of coral as part of Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) construction in Henoko, Nago City after receiving authorization for the transplantation from the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) on July 28. The OPG granted authorization under conditions such as avoiding transplanting during high-temperature periods and during the breeding season (approximately May through October) so as to boost the survival rate of the coral. However, the ODB is ignoring these conditions and proceeding with the work. The ODB did not contact the OPG prior to starting, and at a press conference on July 29, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said, “It is deplorable that the interpretation is that, after having received authorization, they may carry forth just as they please.” As of July 30, the OPG intends to issue administrative guidance in order to have the conditions observed, on top of protesting the ODB’s actions.

On July 29, in response to an inquiry during an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo, an ODB spokesperson said, “We are implementing coral collection at the transplantation source, transportation, and coral fixation at the transplantation destination.” According to the OPG, the ODB did not notify the OPG about commencing transplantation work prior thereto, and in response to an inquiry from the OPG, an ODB spokesperson answered, “[the authorization conditions] are being properly observed.”

The ODB is submitting, to the OPG, plan changes to the improvement work on the soft seafloor throughout Oura Bay, but it appears the OPG is not planning, around mid-August, to approve these changes with consideration to the negative influence on environmental conservation. Thereafter, it appears the OPG may cancel its authorization of coral transplantation, obstructing completion of construction as a whole.

On July 28, the OPG authorized the ODB to transplant approximately 40,000 coral colonies that inhabit zones planned for land reclamation and the surrounding areas. The OPG requested, as conditions for transplantation, that the ODB: (1) select a suitable time period, avoiding time periods when the water temperature is high, breeding season, etc. in order to boost the survival rate of the coral, and (2) conduct one follow-up observation roughly one week after a transplantation and report to the OPG.

When water temperatures rise above 30°C, coral experience a striking phenomenon called bleaching. A spokesperson for the OPG said in an interview, “For the time being water temperatures are rising, and this period is not suitable for transplantation.”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)



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