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Environmentalists turn to America to protect Okinawa dugong

Date Posted: 2007-09-19

Shy, lumbering dugong, already the mammals responsible for blocking construction of a new military airfield in northern Okinawa, has new protectors who are going to America for help in protecting them.
The Dugong Protection Fund says it will send members to the United States in its bid to stop construction at Oura Bay. The group has already been seeking environmental protection for the dugong from Japanese officials, but has met with resistance. Three members say they fear it will be difficult to block the construction by appealing to Japanese courts for help because of the country’s assessment rules.
Instead, they plan to ask American courts to get involved, since it’s an American base to be built in the waters off Camp Schwab. Dugong, along with the manatee, their American counterpart, have made their home in the northern Okinawa area, one of 43 Asia-Pacific countries in which they’re found. The dugong, which grow to nearly nine feet in length, feed on shallow sea grasses in shallow waters less than five meters deep.

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