New Partnership Aims to Revive the 'Sea Forest' in Osaka Bay

Hannan City and Kansai Airports are partnering up to bring back vitality to eelgrass and other CO2-absorbing seaweeds in the 'sea forest' of Osaka Bay.

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Hannan City in Osaka Prefecture and Kansai Airports, the operator of Kansai International Airport (KIX), have announced collaboration on a project to preserve and revitalize the remaining "sea forest" in Osaka Bay. Both parties, who have been involved in efforts to preserve seaweed beds to date, hope to achieve carbon neutrality in the environmental improvement efforts.

Land reclamation along the coast of Osaka Bay progressed alongside industrialization during Japan's period of rapid economic growth. Consequently, the bay saw a decrease in shallow waters such as natural beaches, seaweed beds, and tidal flats that nurture seaweed and aquatic life.

City to Conserve Sea Forest

Hannan City is home to thriving eelgrass beds that are the largest in Osaka Prefecture. The city hosted the National Eelgrass Summit 2018 and has poured much effort into marine environmental conservation and related educational programs for children.

Hannan City Mayor Kenji Mizuno (left) and Kansai Airports Corporate Senior Vice President Satoru Miura announcing the collaborative project to conserve and restore seaweed beds in Osaka Bay on February 14, 2023, at Kansai International Airport (©Sankei by Shigeki Fujiya).

The Kansai International Airport, built five kilometers offshore of the Senshu area of Osaka Prefecture, has a gently sloping stone seawall surrounding it. The seaweed beds on this wall now account for roughly 20% of seaweed beds in Osaka Bay. This rich underwater forest was certified under the J Blue Credit System in late 2022 for its absorption of CO2.

The new initiative, entitled the "Osaka Bay Sea Forest (Seaweed Bed) Conservation and Restoration Project" will involve three activities. These are: transplanting seaweed from the KIX seawall to the coast of Hannan City, information sharing, and classes on seaweed bed conservation taught by Kansai Airports at primary schools in the city. 

Co-Creation for 2025 Osaka Expo

This collaborative project has been registered as a "Co-Creation Challenge" for the 2025 Osaka Expo. And it aims to also contribute to the realization of the Expo's theme, "Designing Future Society for Our Lives."

Growing algae beds on the seawall around Kansai International Airport Island (Photo courtesy of Kansai Airports).

Hannan's Mayor, Kenji Mizuno, shared his enthusiasm for the project. "Our region and the airport coexist with Osaka Bay. We hope to involve many people to promote more steadfast conservation activities," he said.

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