February 18, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo
On February 17, the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) opened the 30th meeting of the Environmental Monitoring Committee (chaired by Yoshiyuki Nakamura, Professor at Yokohama National University Graduate School) at the Okinawa Defense Bureau in Kadena Town in regards to relocating USMC Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City. The ODB officially announced that five of the nine colonies of Porites okinawensis Veron, that were transplanted in 2018 from the ocean area where land reclamation is taking place, were confirmed to have died. It appears these colonies were dead by October 20 last year. The ODB maintains that the death of the colonies was not due to transplantation.
Concerning the transplantation of the Porites okinawensis Veron, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) confirmed that a portion of the coral has spawned, and thus maintains that the “transplantation is succeeding”. However, environmental groups and the Okinawa prefectural government doubt the validity of these claims.
At the Committee meeting on this day, head officers of the ODB mentioned the results of monitoring the transplanted Porites okinawensis Veron as well as those which were originally living at the transplantation destination, and confirmed that the colonies that died did not die due to transplantation. In the monitoring of Porites okinawensis Veron that were originally living at this location, five out of twelve colonies were confirmed to have died.
According to Chairman Nakamura, who held a press conference after the Committee meeting, none of the committee members identified the coral dying as an effect of construction work. However, the committee members were of the opinion that the number of coral colonies to be monitored should be increased in order to investigate the annual survival rate of the coral.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)