Monday, March 1, 2010

On Japan Growing Corals

"A Japanese expedition has started to create two coral islands in a storm-racked corner of the Pacific Ocean that seems destined to become a testing ground for renewed rivalry between Japan and China.
Japan has brought its scientific superiority to bear on the dispute over a cluster of rocks and reefs that defines the limits of Japanese maritime power and challenges Chinese expansion.
Marine biologists from Japan have just completed the first transplants of coral around a pair of islets, 1,060 miles south of Tokyo, to try to save them from waves and typhoons.
Eventually, said Kenji Miyagi, of the fisheries agency, they will graft millions of coral fragments on to the reefs to build them up above sea level and enlarge the surface of the islets, which sit just four inches above water at high tide.
Known in Japanese as Okinotorishima, or “remote bird islands”, they are critical to Japan’s interests today. Tokyo says they mark an exclusive economic zone extending 200 miles from these rocky outcrops.
Japan lays claim to resources that include fishing, minerals, oil and gas within the area. It has already spent more than £300m to build huge cement barriers encircling the islets. No less than £25m was lavished on a titanium net to protect one reef.
The Law of the Sea states that an island is “a naturally formed area of land surrounded by water”. That is why Miyagi’s strands of coral, nurtured in laboratories on the island of Okinawa, are so important to maintaining Japan’s status quo."

You can read the whole article in TIMESONLINE

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