Mariko Abe shark at xc4.so-net.ne.jp
Mon Jun 7 13:11:18 EDT 2004

TO:      ALL 10th International Coral Reef Symposium Participants
FROM:   Environmental Assessment Watch Group for Dugongs in Okinawa

During the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium being held here in 
Okinawa, we are hosting
a meeting to discuss how to help save our threatened dugongs.  You are all 
very welcome to join us!

At the meeting we expect to discuss protection of the dugongs which live in 
the seas just
off-shore Henoko, and which are now being threatened by a plan to build a new
US military airbase on top of their habitat.

On 25th September 2003, Peter Galvin and the Center for Biological 
Diversity (USA), together
with our local Environmental Assessment Watch Group for Dugongs in Okinawa, 
filed a lawsuit
against the US Department of Defense and Secretary of Defense Donald 
Rumsfeld, in order to
help protect dugongs in Okinawa.  Mr. Galvin and two other staff-members 
also attending the
ICRS Symposium will be present at our meeting to discuss this critical 
situation and to share
various other environmental concerns with us.

Dugongs have been designated as one of Japan's Natural Monuments, and the 
seas off Henoko, known
as the northern-most range for dugongs in the Indo-Pacific region, are an 
extremely important habitat.
Henoko is located on the northeast coast of Okinawa Island, an area that 
has been given the status of
RANK 1, (strict nature conservation needed) by the Okinawa Prefectural 
Government.  The area has
also been evaluated as one of 500 ecologically-important wetlands in Japan 
by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.
Although Okinawa is only a mere 0.6% of the total Japanese land area, 75% 
of U.S. bases in Japan are located in
Okinawa!  This U.S. military presence is a result of cooperation between 
the U.S. and Japanese governments.
Now, the U.S. and   Japanese governments have a new plan:  to build a new 
American military base right on top of a
coral reef and the sea grass beds where dugongs feed!  The plan includes 
moving the present Futenma U.S. Marine
base at Ginowan City to a new airbase just offshore Henoko.

Local residents want heliport-related drilling surveys and military diving 
activities on Henoko Reef to stop.
A sit-in was organized by residents to protest the proposed facility, 
following an announcement on April 19, 2004
that feasibility studies for the proposed new airbase would soon be resumed 
in the area.

Dr Kiyoshi Yamazato, Professor Emeritus, University of the Ryukyus, had 
already warned in a report made by
the Department of Nature Conservation of Okinawa Prefecture (Jan 10, 2004), 
"Conducting this plan is equivalent
to stabbing the heart of a coral reef.  These coral reefs will surely 
perish.  Thus I insist this plan be stopped."

We invite you to help us discuss this crisis, as well as other important 
and critical environmental problems we face
in Okinawa.  Please come brainstorm for solutions with us!  Beside the 
immediate Henoko dugong environmental
problem, we hope to extend the discussion to more general topics, such as 
the meaning and limits of Jaapanese
Environmental Assessment Laws.  We very much need your opinions and your 
advice.  Also, if you wish to participate
in our post-symposium field-trip to Henoko to see where the construction of 
the new U.S. military airbase is being
planned, please visit our ICRS exhibition booth to sign up.

  SCHEDULE for "Let's Protect Our Dugongs" MEETING

1.  Time:    19:00-21:00, June 29 (Tuesday, after dinner)
2.      Place:    Convention Center
3.      Theme:   Plan of Action to Protect the Threatened Dugongs in Okinawa
4.      Host:    Environmental Assessment Watch Group for the Dugongs in 

Mariko Abe

p.h.D candidate at University of the Ryukyus
ReefCheck Japan Coordinator
*University of the Ryukyus, Hidaka lab

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