Pumice stone removal costs expected to exceed 1.6 billion yen, not including damage to fishing and tourism industries

Pumice stone removal costs expected to exceed 1.6 billion yen, not including damage to fishing and tourism industries

Floating pumice clogging a harbor in Kunigami – October 29, 2021 (Drone photograph captured by Naoya Oshiro)

February 18, 2022 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Chie Tome


Okinawa Prefecture announced February 17 that the cost of the damage caused by the large incursion of floating pumice stone caused by an undersea earthquake near the Ogasawara islands, based on the cost to collect and transport away the stone is expected to exceed 1.6 billion yen. These costs do not include the economic damage caused by fishing boats being unable to leave port, or damage to the marine leisure industry, so it is believed that the comprehensive economic impact will end up being far larger.

According to Okinawa Prefecture, the amount of pumice collected by the prefecture and the effected towns totals 29,209 cubic meters. As of February 10, the number of fishing boats that have decided to refrain from venturing out into the ocean has risen to 186 vessels, around 6.2% of Okinawa’s total commercial fishing fleet.

The largest cost factor in the total damages comes from the coastal cleanup efforts of the Okinawa Prefectural Civil Engineering and Construction Office, at just over 1 billion yen. Okinawa Prefecture indicates that based on the amount of pumice stone that washed ashore along the northern coast of Okinawa’s main island, the amount of stone that will need to be collected across all regions of Okinawa including the Sakishima Islands will total 102,000 cubic meters, and the budget was based on the expected costs of excavating and removing the stones.

At the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, work is underway on repairing the four fishing ports run by Okinawa Prefecture as well as the two run by municipalities, and this work is expected to cost around 109 million yen.

As for the damage this has caused to the fishing industry, the amount of fish caught in October and November of 2021 was around 290 tons less than the same amount that would have been caught over the same time period in a regular year, however other factors such as the coronavirus pandemic and the amount of natural resources available cannot be separated from this figure, which makes “calculating the total cost of damage difficult.”

As a measure for assisting the fishermen, Okinawa Prefecture as allocated in their 2021 draft budget revision financial aid totaling the fuel costs for 1 month for around 3,000 fishing boats. The operating costs for this are 180 million yen.


(Japanese translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)



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