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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 November 21 - 27  > Ceremony to mark completion of government Isahaya Bay reclamation project held amid protests
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2007 November 21 - 27 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Ceremony to mark completion of government Isahaya Bay reclamation project held amid protests

November 21& 22, 2007
Amid protests staged by local fishermen and residents, a ceremony was held on November 20 in Isahaya, Nagasaki Prefecture, to mark the completion of a controversial reclamation project that separated a tideland in Isahaya Bay from the outer sea water.

Fishermen from four prefectures surrounding the Ariake Sea -Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Saga, and Nagasaki- took to the sea in fishing boats, and local residents held a rally near the reclamation site, shouting, “Give us back the Ariake Sea, our fertile waters! Remove the dykes!”

Holding a banner reading “Open the sluice gate” along with fishermen’s huge flags, protesters read a protest statement.

Araki Hideo, a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by local residents against Nagasaki Prefecture’s use of tax money to develop farmland on the former tideland, said, “What are they celebrating at this ceremony when fishermen are tormented and living creatures have been killed?”

Ten years have passed since Isahaya Bay in the fertile Ariake Sea was separated from the outer sea water with dykes. Changes have occurred in sea currents in the area causing a red tide that led to a sharp decrease in fish and other marine products and a decline in the nori (edible seaweed) harvest. The unprecedented damage to the regional fishing industry is becoming more serious than ever, causing some fishermen to kill themselves.

The government has spent 250 billion yen for the reclamation of about 700 hectares of Isahaya Bay. The reclaimed land has been sold to Nagasaki Prefecture’s agricultural development corporation for 5.1 billion yen. The prefecture will allow about 50 farmers to use the land on lease for farming from spring next year.

Three environmental groups call for sluice gate to be opened

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Japan, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, and the Nature Conservation Society of Japan issued a joint statement on the same day calling for the revival of the Ariake Sea, saying that the reclamation has had a tremendously adverse impact on the fishing industry in the Ariake Sea and that “it is indispensable to let open the sluice gate to bring back the sea water.”

Pointing out that Japan’s largest tideland at Isahaya Bay has disappeared along with many species of wildlife, including benthos and migratory birds, the statement warned that “waste from the regulating reservoir that receives excess nutrients will continue to contaminate Isahaya Bay and the Ariake Sea and damage the environment as well as the fishing ground. It criticized the government for refusing to review the reclamation project while calling for the preservation of tidelands. “This is the biggest contradiction in the government policy.” - Akahata, November 21& 22, 2007
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