National

NPO plans lab to study 3/11 impact

Kyodo

A nonprofit organization known for planting trees to protect the marine environment in Miyagi Prefecture will build a laboratory to study the impact of the March 11, 2011, earthquake-tsunami disaster on local habitats starting next year, according to members.

Based in Kesennuma, one of the hardest-hit Pacific coastal areas, Mori wa Umi no Koibito, which literally means “forest is the lover of the ocean,” has so far sent seawater and other samples to universities for analysis but is now poised to set up a facility where researchers who bring equipment with them can do simple analysis on site.

With construction slated to start in August and full-fledged research next spring, the lab is expected to help revive local industry by leading to the farming of new, high-value oysters and development of artificial oyster farming techniques, said Makoto Hatakeyama, vice president of the group, which is headed by his father.

Since the quake, researchers from about 20 universities, including Kyoto University and Mie University, have regularly visited the NPO’s chief, Shigeatsu Hatakeyama, 69, who is engaged in oyster farming in Kesennuma, to obtain data on local plants and animals such as fish, plankton, birds and reptiles.

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