Academic Disaster Relief Support Program

In an effort to aid environmental reclamation and industrial recovery of Sanriku, which had been the base of Kitasato University School of Marine Biosciences, the students are join hands with the local people in conducting investigation and research.

The Sanriku Coast, which suffered major damage caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, had been the stage for teaching and researching the environment, marine life, and fishery for the past 40 years for Kitasato University School of Marine Biosciences. For an university that had developed by gaining cooperation and working closely with the local people, the department discussed multiple ways to go about contributing to the relief efforts of Sanriku. Basing their activity at the Sanriku Campus which suffered relatively less damage, their ultimate decision was to develop an original "disaster relief support program."

Their program, based on academic efforts, in working towards environmental reclamation and industrial recovery is created from 2 pillars. The first pillar deals with 'investigative research on the effect evaluation of the environment and organisms caused by the disaster', specifically dealing with the following topics: the effect of tsunami and ground sinkage on marine life along the coast, the inhabiting situation of abalone in the bay near the university, water quality within the fish culture region, the effects on the deep ocean ecosystem, and the effect of the disaster on natural ayu swimming up river.

The other pillar is based on research concerning the recovery of the fishery industry in the Sanriku Coast, conducting a wide range of research by working closely with industry workers, to cover the following topics: investigation of the appearance of larvae and juvenile fish along the coast and off-shore, establishing a fish breeding production system for Sanriku Coast marine organisms, release technology of juvenile salmon inhabiting the Sanriku Coast, breeding technology of flounder utilizing LED, development of quality breeds of abalone and sea cucumbers.

The forte of Kitasato University in developing these activities lie in possessing extensive background data and accumulated experience in Sanriku. As a matter of fact, most of the research involved in the project is based on past activities conducted prior to the disaster. Significance arises from the fact that they are able to contribute at a distinguished level, precisely because they are "the university that knows Sanriku best."

Project director Professor Ryusuke Kado emphasizes that they must base their project on "conducting activities that address the requests of the local people." In October of 2011, Kitasato University invested in a new ship in Sanriku to be used for investigative purposes in aiding reconstruction. They plan on utilizing the ship for field work of local fisheries as well.

The research laboratory will be the center in driving the wide-ranged disaster relief support program. Current students are allowed to participate in activities confirmed with safety upon request, and a number of them have already taken part in investigative research. Professor Nobuyoshi Namba comments, "learning about the ocean and engaging in local recovery efforts are a valuable experience."

People praying for the recovery Sanriku have high hopes for future achievements by academic investigation and research, conducted through collaborative efforts by the locals, staff at Kitasato University, and the students.

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