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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 September 11 - 17  > 1/3 of corals transplanted due to Henoko base construction died
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2019 September 11 - 17 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

1/3 of corals transplanted due to Henoko base construction died

September 11, 2019
One third of colonies of an endangered coral species, which had been transplanted in order to construct a U.S. base in Okinawa’s Henoko district, died, Akahata reported on September 11.

The Defense Ministry in August 2018 moved nine colonies of coral reefs known as, Porites okinawensis Veron, from the planned reclamation site in the waters off Henoko as part of nature conservation efforts. The ministry found that three of the nine colonies are no longer alive.

It is necessary to evacuate another 77,000 coral colonies from the rest of the planned reclamation site before landfill work starts there. However, transplanting will most likely bring about a devastating impact on coral species including endangered ones.

An expert on corals, Tokyo Keizai University associate professor Okubo Nami, said that one-third of the evacuated corals died within a year and that this mortality rate is high. She pointed out that it is no surprise that the corals were unable to survive after being relocated to an alien environment.

Okubo condemned the Defense Ministry’s argument about the deaths of the three coral colonies claiming that the coral colonies were already not in good condition before the transplantation and that they gradually weakened in the new environment and died. Okubo stated that in choosing coral colonies to be replanted, the ministry should have avoided unhealthy ones.

The coral expert also criticized the ministry for transplanting the nine coral colonies in August when warmer sea water increases risks. She noted that the Defense Ministry’s panel on monitoring of the natural environment in the Henoko sea area had played down risks concerning transplantation in summer without presenting any scientific evidence. She stressed that the panel should be held responsible.
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