A reporter dives into water covered by pumice at the Ada fishing port in Okinawa Prefecture on Nov. 2. (Kotaro Ebara and Takuya Isayama)

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki on Nov. 2 asked the central government to dispatch the Self-Defense Forces to help clear the blankets of floating volcanic pumice stones that have clogged ports in the prefecture.

“If the ministry acknowledges the urgency, I would like it to send SDF personnel, their equipment and other materials to the prefecture,” Denny said at the Defense Ministry.

He also visited the environment ministry to discuss the problem.

A huge amount of pumice spewed from an eruption in August of the undersea Fukutoku-Okanoba volcano in the Ogasawara island chain around 1,300 kilometers south of Tokyo.

The floating stones traveled 1,400 kilometers and started reaching the shores of Okinawa’s main and other islands in October.

Pumice stones range in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. But enough of them have created thick blankets on the water surface that have seriously damaged the local fishing and tourism industries.

The pumice has been floating into the Ada fishing port in Kunigami village in the northern part of Okinawa’s main island since mid-October. The volcanic debris now covers all areas of the port.

The pumice has prevented fishing boats from venturing out of the port, which faces the Pacific Ocean.

Operations to remove the pumice with heavy machinery went into full swing at Ada Port on Nov. 3.

An Asahi Shimbun reporter on Nov. 2 dived into the seawater at the port. The layer of pumice blocked all light from penetrating the sea surface.

When the reporter stirred the pumice, it made a crunchy noise and then drifted toward the seabed.