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Save Katoku, one of the last intact surf breaks and beaches in Japan

An international campaign launches to protect ‘The Jurassic Beach’ – take action and sign the petition here.

Save The Waves Coalition and international partners are uniting forces to protect Katoku Beach, one of the last unaltered and pristine beaches and waves in all of Japan, from a destructive seawall project.  Check out the campaign page to take action!

Global organization Save The Waves is joining local efforts initiated by the Association for the Conservation of Amami’s Forests, Rivers & Coastal Ecosystems (ACAFRCE) to advocate for the protection of Katoku Beach in Amami-Oshima, Japan.

Katoku Beach, also known as the Jurassic Beach for its timeless and ancient natural beauty and wonder, is the last natural surf ecosystem with public access on the island of Amami without a seawall.

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“Katoku is one of those very rare places in Japan where one can feel the unity of nature and the connection between mountains, rivers and ocean,” said Jon Takaki of the local organization ACAFRCE. “This campaign goes beyond protecting another unique surf spot – it is about drawing a line in the sand and setting a new example for coastal conservation in Amami-Oshima and Japan.”

The Kagoshima Prefecture proposed project includes a 6.5 meter tall and 180 meter long seawall. It would be placed directly over natural dune habitat and interrupt the natural flow of the Katoku River.

Ironically, 11,640 hectares of land in Amami-Oshima have recently been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and IUCN and the Katoku Beach and River are included in the buffer zone of this designation. The construction of this seawall would be a threat to the natural resources and intact ecosystems that the World Heritage nomination attempts to protect and preserve.

A Threatened Sanctuary

This incredible place not only harbors some of Amami-Oshima’s best waves, but also is a sanctuary for endemic and endangered species, including the Amami Black Rabbit, and is the only beach in Japan that has recorded the nesting of the critically  endangered West Pacific Leatherback Turtle.

The Ryukyu Ayu, a critically endangered species of fish, thrives in the lower Katoku River where it travels between fresh and saltwater. Additionally, the Katoku River is recognized by the IUCN as the last free flowing river in all of Amami-Oshima.

“Katoku Beach is a classic example of a pristine surf ecosystem. The dune habitat, river mouth, rich biological diversity and surfing culture make it an important natural and cultural asset for all,” said Conservation Programs Manager, Trent Hodges from Save The Waves. “This seawall project threatens to forever alter the natural processes that have created the waves and biological resources that have existed uninterrupted for centuries.”

The Hazards of Seawalls

As numerous case studies around the world have shown, hard armoring along the coastline exacerbates erosion and often causes the loss of sand or outright disappearance of beaches.  

Coastal armoring projects severely impact the movement and distribution of sand, which often leads to the deterioration and disappearance of high quality waves for surfing. It can also severely impact the biological systems that the free movement of sand supports.

Seawalls can also make beaches dangerous for the public and surfers during high tides and construction of large coastal infrastructure takes years disrupting public access and harming the biological system the beach supports.

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Local surfers, residents, and conservation organizations are drawing a line in the sand at Katoku to protect this pristine beach. They hope to set an example for the rest of the country which has seen harmful coastal armoring projects rapidly develop all over the coast of Japan.  Check out the documentary “A Line in the Sand” to learn more

To combat this threat, ACAFRCE and other organizations have filed a lawsuit to stop the approved project and launched a campaign to amass broad public opposition.  To date, the #SaveKatoku petition has collected over 31,000 signatures, inspired by the documentary ‘A Line in the Sand’. The campaign has brought together surfers, coastal engineers, biologists, geomorphologists and civic organizations to stand up and protect the place they love.  

Save The Waves will work with the local coalition to raise awareness about the threat at Katoku and develop a campaign strategy to protect the beach as the last intact surf ecosystem of Amami-Oshima.

TAKE ACTION TODAY! Sign the petition to let the Kagoshima Prefecture know that the world is watching and share the campaign social media kit.

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About Save The Waves Coalition:

Save The Waves Coalition is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting surf ecosystems across the globe. For more information please visit www.savethewaves.org

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