Japan: Environment ministry declares corals at risk of extinction
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Japan: Environment ministry declares corals at risk of extinction

JAPAN’s Environment Ministry has drafted an emergency declaration regarding the death of coral reefs surrounding the nation, stating they could completely extinct by 2070.

The ministry’s declaration details emergency countermeasures to promote the development of technology that would transplant and cultivate corals, reports the Asia News Network. It would also prioritise conservation by designated coral reef areas protected.

According to a recent study, more than 90 percent of corals in Japan’s Sekiseishoko reef – the country’s largest – are partially bleached while a shocking 70 percent died in 2016.

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As with in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, scientists say that rising sea temperatures due to climate change are largely to blame for coral deaths in Japanese waters. The Barrier Reef experienced the worst bleaching event in history last year.

“Coral reefs account for only 0.6 percent of the global sea area, but they are home to 25 percent of all marine life,” said professor Hajime Kayane from the University of Tokyo.

The Sekisei Lagoon in Okinawa prefecture has long attracted divers from around the world but it experienced mass bleaching between 1998 and 2007. According to secretary general of the Yaeyama Diving Association Tomoya Takeuchi, “it’s become difficult to find healthy coral.”

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“Should coral reefs be lost, fishery resources and the tourism industry will suffer a huge blow,” said Kayane.

Bleaching in the Sekiseishoko reef is expected to continue throughout 2017.