Soft corals seriously were damaged in two years in violation of the EIA: The base construction should be immediately stopped!
On June 18, the widely reported in Korean media was the result of the international workshop to investigate on the impact on Jeju sea soft corals caused by the naval base construction, which was a follow-up of the ‘International Symposium on the Conservation of Soft Corals in Asia-Pacific: Impact of Military Bases on Soft Coral Communities,’ National Assembly seminar hall, Seoul, June 10.
The whole workshop and site investigation (June 11 to 13) was organized by the Gangjeong Village Association, Jeju Pan-Island Committee for Stop of Military Base and for Realization of Peace, National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island, and Office of Jang Hana, National Assembly Woman .
The task force team on the monitoring of the soft corals in the Jeju naval base construction area included Dr. James E. Maragos, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, a member of the soft coral expert group, IUCN; Dr. Simon Ellis, Marine and Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei; Dr. Abe Mariko, The Nature Conservation Society of Japan; Office of Jang Hana; Green Korea United; PSPD (People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy); Gangjeong Village Association; and specialist divers.
The team pointed out above all that the navy’s post-environmental impact assessment has been conducted in the wrong sites.
The ROK navy has assessed in its ‘post environmental impact assessment result report,’ that there is ‘no impact due to naval base [construction] in the numbers of soft coral species, density of floating stuffs, and change of current etc., since the 2009 EIA and its following period of post-EIA (2011 to the current)
The team, however, pointed out that the navy’s ‘post-EIA result report shows the navy has not processed on the monitoring on soft corals and measuring on current & floating material in the areas of the Gangjeong lighthouse and Seogeon Island, which are located within the 4~500 m or there about from the [currently built] naval base breakwaters and within the direct impact zones due to the naval base construction.
The team reported from their own investigation that ‘in the areas directly impacted by the naval base construction, a symptom of the maritime environment change that seriously threatens the soft coral habitats is found.’ According to them, the changed environment is VERY WORRISOME, compared to the period in Aug. 2012 when the maritime construction has not been taken in earnest, yet.
Simon Elise who has monitored the same areas, visiting Jeju in 2012, pointed out that ‘the expansion and the increment of the sediments that are filed up on soft corals interrupt their feeding activities. Not only that, it seems that the ROK navy is not properly carrying out its role enough even though management on the sediments is necessary because they are the threatening element for their poison effect.’ (* translation from Korean media)
.According to the team, the current in those areas has weaken like a lake [even though the monitoring was carried out in the period when the current is the strongest] The experts say that the weakened currents bring concern about the coral ecology as soft corals have habits to take feeding activities by expanding themselves when current is strong.
Following the monitoring, Yoon Sang-Hoon, Green Korea United claimed:
“The species that are protected by law is in crisis. We demand the stop of construction(destruction) and accurate investigation above all..
Shin Yong-In, a law professor of the Jeju University reminds that the naval base construction is processed with conditions attached:
“Shouldn’t the construction(destruction) be stopped and re-examined when natural memorial is damaged? Isn’t the reason why the Ministry of Environment and Cultural Heritage of Administration of Korea exist? Just for the pretext that the naval base is a national security project, the rest problem has been indulged. If you look at the current EIA, there should be no damage on soft corals.”
For the collection of Korean articles, see here.
The Kookmin TV on June 17 is one of the media that reported on the people’s monitoring activity, its results and their evaluations. You can watch experts’ diving, sea condition and Simon Elise’s won words, here.