Wind Power Project Threatens Endangered Japanese Huchen

Wind Power Project Threatens Endangered Japanese Huchen

Environmental groups are urging the suspension of a wind power plant project in Hokkaido, Japan, due to concerns over its potential impact on the critically endangered Japanese huchen, a rare species of freshwater fish.

The project, led by Japan Renewable Energy Corp. (JRE), a company affiliated with the major oil company Eneos Corp., could potentially devastate the population of Japanese huchen, also known as the "phantom fish."

The wind power plant, planned to have a maximum output of 354,000 kilowatts and cover about 18,000 hectares, will be located in the Sarufutsugawa river basin and surrounding areas, a critical habitat for the Japanese huchen.

According to a survey conducted by the National Institute for Environmental Studies in 1998, 118 out of 311 spawning beds of Japanese huchen are located within the project site, raising concerns that the project could significantly disrupt the fish's reproduction.

The Nature Conservation Society of Japan has submitted a set of recommendations to JRE, including suspending the project, due to the potential negative impacts of deforestation, altered river flows, warmer water temperatures, oxygen deficiency, and increased erosion on the Japanese huchen and its ecosystem.

The Hokkaido Branch of the Ecological Society of Japan has also voiced concerns, emphasizing the risk of extinction for the Japanese huchen in the region if the project proceeds.

Environment Minister Shintaro Ito has acknowledged the need for major revisions to the project if JRE is unable to significantly reduce the threat to the Japanese huchen.

While wind power generation is seen as essential for creating a decarbonized society, the project highlights the challenges of balancing renewable energy development with environmental conservation.