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Earthjustice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 7, 2004
5:57 PM
CONTACT: Earthjustice 
Peter Galvin 707-986-7805
Martin Wagner 510-550-6700
 
International Conservation Groups Call on Bush & Koizumi to Save the Okinawa Dugong New Airbase Would Destroy Essential Dugong Habitat
 

WASHINGTON - September 7 - A coalition of hundreds of US and international conservation groups representing over 10 million people sent a letter today to President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi urging the two leaders to cancel a plan to construct a new air base on top of a coral reef near Henoko, Okinawa, the feeding ground of the last remaining Okinawa Dugong (sea cow). Biologists believe building this landing strip could doom these gentle marine mammals to extinction.

The plan calls for Japan to build a new military base for American use atop coral reefs--effectively destroying the remaining habitat of the gentle dugong in Japan. The 1.5 mile-long airbase would also permanently disrupt one of the most biologically diverse areas in the Pacific.

The coral reefs in question provide important habitat for numerous rare wildlife species including the endangered dugong, a Japanese cultural icon related to the manatee, and three species of sea turtle. Local residents voted against the airbase project in a referendum, but Japanese and US authorities are ignoring their voices.

A coalition of US and Japanese conservation groups went to court in September 2003 to stop the project http://www.earthjustice.org/news/display.html?ID=684. The case is currently being heard in US District Court in San Francisco. The lawsuit asks the US Department of Defense to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) by publicly assessing the impacts of the proposed project on the Okinawa dugong. The NHPA requires US agencies to assess the impacts of their activities on cultural icons of foreign nations. Because of their significance to Okinawan culture, dugongs are included on a Japanese government list of protected cultural properties.

"The Department of Defense has a legal duty to protect the cultural resources and national monuments of other nations, especially our allies," said Martin Wagner of Earthjustice, who is representing the coalition in the United States. "The Okanawa dugong is a cultural icon and national monument in Japan. This vanishing species deserves the same protection and respect that we give to the Washington Monument or bald eagle."

The letter sent today was signed more than 400 organizations representing more than ten million concerned citizens worldwide.

"Construction of the new airbase would cause severe ecological damage to one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth," said Peter Galvin of Center for Biological Diversity who organized the letter campaign. " For this reason, conservation groups around the world are asking President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to cancel the base construction plan and protect the Okinawa dugong, a creature recognized as a national monument in Japan."

 

September 7, 2004

Dear President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi,

The island of Okinawa has been called the "Galapagos of the East" because of the incredible variety of marine and terrestrial life it supports.

Almost 400 types of coral form Okinawa's reefs, which support more than 1,000 species of fish, marine mammals and sea turtles.

As two prominent world leaders, you have the power to protect these unique and priceless creatures. Unfortunately, a joint project backed by the United States and Japanese governments will destroy one of the last healthy reefs in Okinawa, pushing many magnificent species closer to extinction.

Current plans call for construction of a new military base at sea, atop a coral reef near Henoko in Okinawa. But the reef that this project would destroy supports numerous highly endangered species - animals protected by American, Japanese and international law. These species include:

· The critically endangered and culturally treasured dugong, which relies on this habitat for its very survival in Okinawa.

Japan's Mammalogical Society placed the dugong on its "Red List of Mammals" in 1997, estimating the population in Okinawa to be critically endangered. The U.S. Government's Marine Mammal Commission also fears the project would pose a serious threat to the animals' survival. The World Conservation Union's dugong specialists have expressed similar concerns and have placed the dugong on their Red List of threatened species.

· Three types of endangered sea turtle - the hawksbill, loggerhead, and green - also depend on this ecosystem. All of these turtles, as well as the dugong, are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Because of global warming, landfill and pollution, Okinawa's coral reefs, along with coral reefs around the world are already threatened. More than half of Okinawa's coral reefs have disappeared over the past decade. This makes preserving the healthy reefs that continue to exist all the more important. By canceling the plan to construct the airbase near Henoko, you can help protect a globally important ocean ecosystem and some of the best remaining habitat for Okinawa dugong. We urge you to cancel this destructive project.

Sincerely,

Peter Galvin, Conservation Director, Center for Biological Diversity (USA)

Martin Wagner, International Program Director, Earthjustice (USA)

Joel Reynolds, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council

Carl Zichella, Regional Staff DirectorCA/NV/HI Field Office, Sierra Club

Priscilla Feral, President, Friend of Animals (USA)

Andrew J. Orahoske, Land Air Water, University of Oregon's environmental law society

Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director, The Xerces Society

Cynthia Elkins, Program Director, Environmental Protection Information Center

David Gordon, Acting Executive Director, Pacific Environment (USA)

Dr. Thomas J. Goreau, President, Global Coral Reef Alliance

William W. Rossiter, President Cetacean Society International

Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt, Biodiversity Policy Officer, Marine Conservation Society

Greg L. Carter, President, Oceanic Resource Foundation

Robert Rabin/Nilda Medina, Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques'

Tara Thornton, Executive Director, Military Toxics Project

Pamela K. Miller, Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT)

Alfredo Quarto, Exec. Dir., Mangrove Action Project

Ann Z. Olib, Executive Director, People's Task Force for Bases Cleanup Philippines

Drew Weiner, Director, Reef Protection International

Frederic Evenson, Ecological Rights Foundation

Alison Rolfe, San Diego Bay Keeper

Sigrid Lüber, ASMS, OceanCare

Puanani Rogers, Ho`okipa Network - Kauai

Kyle Kajihiro, American Friends Service Committee - Hawai'i

Gershon Cohen Ph.D., Project Director, Campaign to Safeguard America's Waters

Jim Albertini, President, Malu `Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action

Laura Olah, Executive Director, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger

Cheryl A. Magill, Stop LFAS Worldwide Network

Dan Clark, Cry of the Water

Henk van der Keur, Laka Foundation (Netherlands)

'Ohana Koa, Nuclear Free & Independent Pacific, Hawai'i Chapter

Carroll Muffett, Director of International Programs, Defenders of Wildlife

Tim Dillingham, Executive Director, American Littoral Society

Karen Sack, Oceans Policy Advisor, Greenpeace International

Lisa Finaldi, Greenpeace USA

Sarah Matsumoto, Western Representative, Endangered Species Coalition

1000 Friends of Florida

1000 Friends of Maryland

Abalone Alliance Safe Energy Clearinghouse

Action For Animals

Action for Conservation

Alabama Environmental Council

Alaska Wildlife Alliances

Alley Cat Allies

Alliance for Animals

American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta

American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums

American Bat Conservation Society

American Cetacean Society

American Eagle Foundation

American Hiking Society

American Humane Association

America Institute for Biological Sciences

American Indian Center of Central Florida Inc.

American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Lands

The American Malacological Society Inc.

American Ornithologists' Union

American Planning Association

American Rivers

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

American Society of Mammalogists

American Wildlands

Anacostia Watershed Society

Andropogon Associates Ltd.

Animal Defense League of Long Island

Animal Defense League of New York City

Animal Protection Institute

Animal Protection of New Mexico

Animal Rights Foundation of Florida

Appalachia Science in the Public Interest

Appalachian Mountain Club

The Ark Trust Inc.

Artesian Source Inc.

Association of Systematics Collections

Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights

Atlanta Audubon Society

Audubon Council of Texas

Audubon Society of Central Maryland

Audubon Society of Central New Mexico

Audubon Society of New Hampshire

Audubon Society of Portland

Audubon Society of Rhode Island

Augusta Bird Club

Bay Area Action

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Berks Conservation League

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Bloomington Rainforest Action Group

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Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society

Buckeye Forest Council

Bucks County Audubon Society

California Native Plant Society

California Trout

California Wilderness Coalition

Caribbean Conservation Corportaion/Sea Turtle Survival League

Carson Forest Watch

Cascadia Forest Defenders

Cedar Lane Universailist Church

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Development of International Law

Center for Environmental Citizenship

Center for Plant Conservation

Center for Wildlife Information

Cetacean Society International

Chattooga River Watershed Coalition

Chewonki Foundation

Chicago Zoological Society

Christian Environmental Association

Citizens Concerned About I-73

Citizens League for Environmental Action & Recovery

Citizens United for Animals Inc.

Clearinghouse for Environmental Advocacy and Research

Clearwater Biodiversity Project

Coalition Advocating the Protection of Endangered Species

Coalition for Jobs and the Environment

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life

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Connecticut Audubon Society

Connecticut Citizen Action Group

Connecticut Conservation Association

Conservancy of Southwest Florida

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Conservation Fisheries Inc.

Conservation Law Foundation

Conservation Science Institute

Cornell Greens

Darby Creek Valley Association

Defenders of Wild Cumberland

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Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Desert Fishes Council

Dogwood Alliance

Doris Day Animal League

Dugong Network Okinawa

Earth Action Network

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Environmental Protection Information Center Inc.

Environmental Resource Center Environmental Solutions Project

Environmental Voters Education Fund

Episcopal Diocese of Maryland-Committe on the Environment

Federated Conservationists of Westchester County

Florida Audubon Society

Focus on Nature

Forest Conservation Council

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Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics

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General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

Georgia Native Plant Society

Government Accountability Project

Grand Canyon Trust

GrassRoots Environmental Effectiveness Network

Gray Panthers

Great Plains Restoration Council

Great South Bay Audubon Society

Greater Watchug Nature Club

Greenbelt Alliance

Greenpeace

Gulf Specimen Marine Lab

Harris Center for Conservation Education

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association

Heal the Bay

Healthy Crones

Healthy Earth

Heartwood

Hempen Goods

The Herpetologists' League

Historic Preservation

Trust of Lancaster County

Hoosier Environmental Council

Human League of Lancaster County

Humane Education Network

Humane Society of the United States

Humanitarians for Environmental & Animal Laws Political Action Committee

Idaho Conservation League

Illinois Student Environmental Network

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INPIRG

International Primate Protection League

Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance

Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research

Japan Environmental Law Federation

The John G. Shedd Aquarium

Jumping Frog Research Institute

Kalmiopsis Audubon Society

Kentucky Citizens Accountability Project

Kentucky Heartwood

Kettle Range Conservation Group

Key Deer Protection Alliance

Klamath Forest Alliance

Knoah's Ark

Kutztown University Environmental Science Forum

Lake Champlain Committee Inc.

Lake Michigan Federation

Lancaster Greens

The Lands Council

Land Trust Alliance

Last Chance Audubon Society

Last Stand

League of Women Voters

LightHawk

Living Education Center for Ecology and the Arts

Local Environmental Awareness Development Group (LEAD)

Lone Tree Council

Long Island Pine Barrens

Madison Audubon Society

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Mainline Unitarian Church

Marine Protection Alliance

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Maryland Interfaith Coalition for the Environment

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MARYPIRG

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Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Mexican Wolf Coalition of Texas

Michigan Environmental Council

Michigan Humane Society

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Minnesota Native Plant Society

Minnesota River Valley Audubon Society

Missouri Botanical Garden

Missouri Environmental Fund

Mohawk Valley Audubon Society

Monitor International

Montana Audubon Council

Montana Wilderness Association

Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

Mount Graham Coalition

National Association of People with AIDS

National Audubon Society

National Foundation to Protect America's Eagles

National Parks and Conservation Association

National Recreation and Parks Association

Native Plant Society of Oregon

Native Seeds/SEARCH

Natural Resources Defense Council

New England Aquarium

New England Environmental Voters

New England Wild Flower Society

New Jersey Audubon Society

New Jersey Environmental Lobby

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New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Council

New York Turtle and Tortoise Society

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North Central Washington Audubon Society

North Florida Trout Unlimited

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Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society

Northcoast Environmental Center

Northwest Ecosystem Alliance

Northwest Illinois Audubon Society

Oak Brook Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Ocean State Action

Ohio Wilderness League

Okeanos Ocean Research Foundation

Orange County People for Animals

Orca Quest

Oregon Natural Deserts Association

Oregon Natural Resources Council

The Ornithological Council

The Otter Project

P.E.A.C.E.

Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations

Pacific Rivers Council

Pautuxent Bird Club

Peace and Justice Center

The Pegasus Foundation

Peninsula Conservation Center Foundation

Pennsylvania Audubon Society

Pennsylvania Green Party

Pennsylvania Trout

Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation

Pequea Township Environmental Advisory Council

Performing Animals Welfare Society

Philadelphia Botanical Club

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Pilchuck Audubon Society

Pine Creek Valley Watershed Association

Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Predator Project

Prince George's Baywatchers

Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

Rainforest Action Network

Raptor Research Foundation

Reading Public Museum

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

REP America

RESTORE: The North Woods

Rockaway Township Environmental Commission

Rockbridge Area Conservation Council

Rockcastle River Rebirth

Rumpf Law Offices

Sacred Earth Network

Santa Barbara Urban Creeks Council

Santa Fe Presbyterian Church

Save America's Forests

Save Biosphere

Save Endangered Wilderness

Save Our Streams

Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition

Save the Dugong Foundation

Save the Manatee Club

Save the Species Worldwide Organization

Save Wetlands and Bays

Save-A-Turtle

Sea Turtle Preservation Society

Seattle Audubon Society

Selkirk Conservation Alliance

Sierra Club Grizzly Bear Ecosystem Project

Sinapu

Siskiyou Regional Education Project

Society for Animal Protective Legislation

Society for Conservation Biology

South Carolina Forest Watch

South Shore Audubon Society

Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project

Southern Environmental Center

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Southwest Center for Biological Diversity

Southwest Environmental Center

Students Conscious of Protecting the Environment

Students for the Environment-University of Delaware

Superior Wilderness Action Network

The Strong Foundation for Environmental Values

Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning

T & E Inc.

The Tides Center/Bioregional Intitiative

Timber Wolf Alliance

Tortoise Group

Town and Country Garden Club

Trevor Zoo

Trout Unlimited

Trout Unlimited Mountaineer Chapter #153

Tucson Audubon Society

Turner Endangered Species Fund

Turtle Island Restoration Network

Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Unitarian Universalist Seventh Principle Project

Unitarians for Ethical Treatment of Animals

United Church of Christ Network for Environmental and Economic Responsibility

University of Wisconsin Greens

U.S. PIRG

Vermont Audubon Council

Virginia Forest Watch

Virginia Herpetological Society

Virginians for Wilderness

Voices for Animals

Washington Trout

Water Watch

Waukesha County Environmental Action League

Wesley Foundation of WI

West Michigan Environmental Action Council

Western Endangered Species Alliance

Western North Carolina Alliance

Western Wildlife Conservancy

Wetlands Preserve

Whale Conservation Institute

Wild Again Inc.

Wild Again

Wildlife Rehabilitation

Wild Earth

Wild Forever

Wild Harvest

Wild Onion Alliance

The Wilderness Society

The Wildlands Project

Wildlife Advocacy Project

Wildlife Alive/Earth Island Institute

Wildlife Center of Virginia

Wildlife Conservation Society

Wildlife Damage Review

Wildlife Information Center

Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of MA

Wildlife Rescue of the Florida Keys

The Wildlife Society

Wisconsin Audubon Council

Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers

Wolf Education and Research Center

Woodworkers Alliance for Rainforest Protection

World Foundation for Natural Science

World Institute for a Sustainable Humanity

World Society for the Protection of Animals

World Stewardship Institute

Wyncote Audubon Society

Wyoming Outdoor Council

Xerces Society

Zoological Society of Philadelphia

Zungaro Cocha Research Center

###

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