University of Hawaii biologists who were part of a recent biological survey team on Pagan Island are spearheading an international effort to save the island from almost certain environmental and cultural destruction.
The government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is considering a proposal from Japanese investors to lease beautiful and biologically unique Pagan Island, as a dumping ground for tons of tsunami debris.
This proposal was initiated by agents for Asia Mining Development PTE Ltd and Kankyo Kaizen Kiko Co. Ltd. who want to mine Pagan Island for pozzolan (volcanic ash used in the manufacture of cement). To offset the cost of bringing empty ships from Japan to Pagan Island to collect the pozzolan, the investors propose transport of millions of metric tons of tsunami debris.
The Saipan Tribune on May 16, 2012, reported that the Japanese investors want to lease about 2,000 hectares of the island, whose entire area is only about 4,700 hectares. This would surely include all of the northern half of Pagan Island, where a small runway is located and is the site of traditional homesites of Chamorro people native to the island.
Pagan is one of the largest and most biologically and geologically diverse islands in the Mariana Archipelago. Three volcanic cones constitute the landmass of Pagan, of which the highest, Mount Pagan, is active and produces a constant cloud of steam and ash. Pagan is host to much of the native and endemic flora and fauna of the Mariana Island, including threatened and endangered species, such as the endemic subspecies of the Mariana fruit bat, the endemic Micronesian megapode, the threatened tree snail Partula gibba, and several species of sea turtles. Already confined to a small island archipelago, the biota of the Mariana Islands are under siege by human induced habitat destruction, especially on the more populated islands of Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
International outcry over this proposal and its potential impacts to the environment and the prosperity of the people of the CNMI has begun and the official Save Pagan Island petition received over 2,000 signatures from around the world within days.
For more information about Pagan and the efforts to save the island, and to view the petition, visit savepaganisland.org. (PR)