Turtle traces found at new base site

Egg finds counter claims in environment report that Futenma relocation area is unlikely habitat

Kyodo

Endangered turtles have apparently laid eggs on Okinawa beaches where the contentious U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is to be relocated, according to government documents.

The finding casts further doubt on the credibility of an environmental impact assessment the Defense Ministry compiled last year in connection with the base relocation that reportedly concluded that the beaches off U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab are not suitable for the turtles to lay eggs.

The ministry’s Okinawa bureau documented the discovery of egg-laying sites based on research in 2009 and 2010 on the habitation of the sea turtles on the shore near Camp Schwab, which is in the Henoko district of Nago. Under a Japan-U.S. accord, the Futenma base, now in the crowded city of Ginowan, is supposed to be closed and a replacement air base built extending beyond the shores of Henoko.

The Okinawa Defense Bureau conducted the research separately from work for the environment impact assessment it submitted to the prefectural government last year as a necessary step before any work to relocate the Futenma base could commence.

The prefecture asked the bureau to revise the report based on research in fiscal 2007 and 2008 that concluded the coastal environment cannot be protected if the air base, portions of whose runways are to extend offshore, is built there as planned.

According to the latest documents, the bureau found dozens of eggs of loggerhead and green turtles in 2009 and 105 eggs of unidentified sea turtles in 2010 on the beaches near Camp Schwab.

Many of the eggs discovered in 2009 hatched, but none of the eggs found in 2010 did, according to the documents.

The bureau also found apparent turtle traces on the beaches between May and July as well as in September 2009, and between May and July 2010.