Two anglers were referred to prosecutors Monday over damage to rare species of plants on the Ogasawara Islands, a World Heritage site, after they told police they cut down some trees to clear a shortcut to the shore to fish.
A 28-year-old employee of a resort inn and a 25-year-old construction worker living on Hahajima islet in the Pacific, whose names have not been disclosed, allegedly damaged local vegetation last September in violation of the Natural Parks Act. They have admitted to the charge, according to the police.
The damaged plants included a type of palm endemic to the Ogasawara Islands, designated as a national park, and a species of woody plant in the myrtles family that is on the Environment Ministry’s Red List of endangered species.
The two men moved to Hahajima, a part of Ogasawara village in the Tokyo administrative region and a popular site for lure-fishing enthusiasts, a few years ago, often going fishing together, the police said.
The pair were quoted by the police as saying they used saws and froes to make the shortcut connecting a mountain trail to the shore. Investigators suspect the two damaged 17 trees of nine species on two occasions in September last year.
A local guide first spotted the damage and notified the police.
The men face up to six months in prison or fines of up to ¥500,000 ($3,900) if convicted, according to the ministry.