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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 June 25 - July 1  > Court recognizes Isahaya Bay reclamation has caused damage to fishing industry
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2008 June 25 - July 1 [ENVIRONMENT]

Court recognizes Isahaya Bay reclamation has caused damage to fishing industry

June 28, 2008
The Saga District Court on June 27 recognized that a state-run reclamation project at the Isahaya Bay in Ariake Sea, southern Japan, has damaged the local fishing industry, and ordered the government to open the sluice gate for a five-year research period.

About 2,500 fishermen in the Ariake Sea coastal prefectures of Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, and Kumamoto brought their case to court in November 2002, claiming that the local fishing industry was damaged from the state reclamation project and demanded that the government remove the tide-control dike and keep the sluice gate open all the time.

The judge confirmed a causal link between the reclamation and the worsening fishery environment, saying that the project has damaged boat fishing, clamming, and fish farming within and around Isahaya Bay.

The judge also criticized the government for being reluctant to cooperate in the verification of the causal relations and refusing to conduct a mid- to long-term assessment of the possible outcome of the gate opening.

In an unusual move, the judge requested the government to conduct the investigation as soon as possible in order to find appropriate steps based on the findings.

The Isahaya Bay reclamation project began in 1989. The completion of the 7-kilometer-long tide-control dike to close off the bay head in 1997 has weakened the tidal current within the bay and brought about deleterious changes to the fishing environment.

Don’t appeal to upper court: JCP

Japanese Communist Party House of Councilors Nihi Sohei, who heads the JCP Ariake reconstruction project team, commented on the ruling as follows:

“The government has refused to conduct the mid- to long-term gate-opening assessment despite their knowledge of the adverse changes taking place in the Ariake Sea and the serious fishing damage, saying that the refusal is a political decision of the agricultural and fisheries minister without showing any scientific grounds.

The court regarded such a government posture as an act of ‘interference with efforts to verify the damage claimed by the plaintiffs.’ The large public works projects and the government action are to blame for the expanding damage and making it difficult for agriculture and fisheries to prosper.

The government must not appeal the court decision.

The JCP demands that the government decide to open the sluice gate without delay.”
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