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Prefecture to invest ¥230 million for coral transplants

Date Posted: 2011-03-24

Okinawa Prefecture, fishermen’s cooperatives, citizen groups and private companies are joining forces on a five-year project to regenerate and transplant coral at two coastal locations.

The project, to run until fiscal year 2016, will focus on planting a total of about three hectares in the Kerama and Onna areas. Funding for the first year’s operation is set at ¥230 million. While citizen groups and coral specialists are hailing the effort as “epoch-making”, others are calling the project a waste of money, insisting that coral is growing easily.

Officials say the project will include coral transplants, and also financial support for preservation activities for gene analysis, egg supply, surveying and research on crown of thorns extermination. The egg transplants will be in the Kerama and Onna areas, where egg supplies are being developed. The combined effort of private companies and government organizations will also come to grips with gathering larva of coral that swim in the water or as eggs, bringing them to seedling status in three years, then continuing observation and monitoring efforts after three years.

Okinawa Prefecture conservationists say “It is good that we be able to have natural recovery, but it will be better with human help.” The Prefecture Conservation of Nature Section is establishing a start up committee to examine the best places for seeds and seedling facilities. The president of ‘Seed of Sea’, Kouji Kinjo, says “finally, the government is becoming worried about coral.” His company has sold about 40,000 seedlings and transplants over a seven-year period. He says, though, “In shoals, damage from fishing tackle or human activity is scarier than the effluence of red soil, so I hope they make a rule for good stewardship of the areas.”

Mariko Abe, a member of The Japan Conservation of Nature Association, says the group will continue investigations of seaweed beds and coral. Abe says “even if recovery covers three hectares, Okinawa Prefecture should promote development or large-scale reclamation of the seashore. We should be concerned about reasons why coral is decreasing.”

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