Tokyo, Oct 29 (EFE).- Japanese authorities Friday began removing the pumice stones accumulated along the coasts of the southwest Okinawa prefecture after an underwater eruption that paralyzed fishing and tourism.
The pumice stones, floating in the water due to low density, were carried by currents.
They have accumulated in the ports of the main island of the Okinawa archipelago.
The stones have reached other parts of southwestern Japan, including the Kagoshima prefecture.
Thousands of fish have died from ingesting the floating stones after mistaking them for food.
The stones have also blocked 16 fishing ports in Okinawa and Kagoshima and damaged about 40 boats.
The Japanese government has set up a response team to oversee recovery efforts and provide financial assistance to the affected fishermen, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said.
“The pumice on the sea surface could spread to a wide area of Japan. We will continue to deal with the matter carefully,” the government spokesperson told reporters, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.
The unprecedented operation to remove the volcanic rocks from the coast of Okinawa could last between two or three weeks, a spokesperson of the regional government said.
The pumice may have come from the Fukutoku-Okanoba underwater volcano, located more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from Okinawa, in the remote Ogasawara archipelago.
The volcano saw a powerful eruption in August that resulted in forming a new isle in the area. EFE