Open Isahaya's sluice gate to clear Ariake Bay: panel

A third party panel recommended that the government open a sluice gate
of Isahaya Bay within Ariake Bay in Kyushu, Southern Japan, so that polluted
Ariake Bay will be revitalized.

The recommendation the panel submitted to the Agriculture and Fishery
minister on December 19 calls for opening the sluice gate, which was
established to reclaim part of Isahaya Bay, over several years and as high
as possible to let water in. This will help identify the root cause of
contamination of the Bay of Ariake.

The panel report dealt a heavy blow to the ministry which has insisted
that the minimum time and shortest opening of the gate will be enough.

The Ariake Bay, Japan's No.1 Nori (seaweed) bed, has been seriously
polluted after the government constructed a sluice gate in Isahaya Bay in

Calling on the government to open the gate immediately, fishermen of
Shiga and Nagasaki prefectures fishing in Ariake Bay have carried out on-sea

Isahaya's 237 billion yen reclamation plan, to drain Japan's largest
tideland to make 1,840 hectares of land by constructing a 7-kilometer bank,
shows how wasteful the government's major public works projects are.

The panel's report criticized the ministry for pushing ahead with the
ill-advised reclamation. Fishermen welcomed the report. The government has
so far promised to respect the panel's recommendations.

Ozawa Kazuaki, Japanese Communist Party House of Representatives member,
on the same day issued a statement urging the ministry to accept the panel's
advice, saying that the government is responsible to clean up Ariake Bay.

JCP Dietmembers visited Ariake Bay from December 19 to 21 to survey a
seaweed processing factory, Saga's fishery development center, and Isahaya's
reclaimed land. They heard about the extraordinary growth of plankton and
the changing tides in Ariake Bay.

"We need immediate steps to clear the sea so that Tairagi (pen shell)
will come back again," a fisherman appealed to the JCP Dietmembers. (end)