The Okinawa dugong, a close relative of the manatee and the northernmost population of its species, is now on the verge of extinction. The dugong, a gentle marine mammal once commonly seen around Okinawa, has long been a symbol of the sea rich in life. The coast off Henoko, in Nago, still beautiful with wildlife such as corals and turtles, holds a rich sea-grass colony where the dugong feed.
However, there are plans to landfill this area to construct a US military base.
In March, Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera filed with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima an application for approval to landfill waters off Henoko in order to build a new base. This filing used an environmental assessment conducted by the Defense Bureau to claim that the dugongs will “stay far away from the construction site”.
The Governor has already expressed grave concerns regarding the environmental assessment and impact on the welfare of local residents. In response, the Defense Bureau has simply maintained its assertion that the dugongs would not be affected.
But on September 22, Kyodo News broke the story that the Defense Bureau had actively hidden important facts about dugong activity in Henoko waters uncovered during its environmental assessment. Dugong feeding traces had been found in the waters off Henoko through April to June last year and a dugong was sighted in Oura Bay, adjacent to the Henoko beach. It’s clear that for the Defense Bureau, those findings constituted ‘inconvenient truths’ better hidden from the public.
The Governor will make his decision on the project before December. If this project is carried out, the Henoko seagrass beds, together with the Okinawa dugong, will be lost forever.
We hope all the people of the world will join us in an effort to continue to co-exist with the dugongs. Please sign and share our petition calling on Okinawa Governor Nakaima to deny the landfill application for the waters of Henoko.
Thank you for your support.
Association to Protect the Northernmost Dugong --
Masako Suzuki, Etsuko Urashima, Iyanaga Kenichi
Henoko, Okinawa, Japan
Dugong habitat confirmed at relocation site of Okinawa base - Global Post
Photo Copyright - Julien Willem
For Korean petition, Please see HERE
For French petition,Please see HERE