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Okinawa prefectural officials met Wednesday to discuss ways to collect a large amount of pumice stones apparently from the eruption of an undersea volcano from the Ogasawara Islands.

Many parts of the main island of Okinawa, southernmost Japan, have been affected by the pumice stones floating from the Ogasawara island chain, located some 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo.

The officials agreed to set up a task force to consider ways to deal with the stones. They also agreed to seek state subsidies to cover costs to deal with the situation.

“We need to act quickly as there is a huge impact on the fisheries and tourism industries as well as the environment,” Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki told the officials.

The pumice stones are believed to have been caused by an eruption in August of the Fukutokuokanoba submarine volcano in the Ogasawara chain, according to prefectural officials and others.

The stones have been confirmed on Okinawa’s main and nearby islands since they arrived at Kitadaito Island, some 360 km away, on Oct. 8.

A Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel was stranded Saturday after encountering the stones during training some 55 km south of the Okinawa city of Itoman.

A large amount of pumice stones drifted ashore at Uchihana port on a northern Okinawa island, preventing ships from entering or leaving there.

The stones have also affected fishing operations at several ports in the northern part of Okinawa’s main island.

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