Nagasaki gov. seeks resumption of Isahaya Bay reclamation.
Nagasaki Gov. Genjiro Kaneko on Monday urged the government to resume reclamation work at Isahaya Bay, suspended over allegations that the work has disrupted the ecosystem and adversely affected local seaweed crops.
Kaneko, who made the demand in a meeting in Tokyo with Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshio Yatsu, also handed over a petition to the same effect, ministry officials said.
The meeting follows a decision by Yatsu late last month to open within two years the gates of a dike which cuts off a large part of the bay from the Ariake Sea in southern Japan.
Yatsu has said the opening is necessary to see whether doing so improves the ecosystem, whose disruption has allegedly triggered the superabundance of plankton that eat nutrient salts like phosphorus, thus damaging the 'nori' seaweed that need the salts for growth.
The 7,050-meter-long dike had been built to shut out the sea to enable the 237 billion yen reclamation project, which began in 1986 to create 1,840 hectares of farmland. The gates were shut in 1997.
In his petition presented to Yatsu, Kaneko said the stoppage of the reclamation work has hurt the livelihood of construction workers who were once local fishermen. The fishermen reportedly lost their jobs because of the poor fish catches since the start of the reclamation.
The petition says the suspension of the reclamation work may scuttle an original plan to start allowing farmers to use a part of the reclaimed farmland from fiscal 2003.
It also claims the opening of the lock gates ''would eliminate the gates' effects of preventing a natural disaster'' from striking local residents.
Yatsu reportedly told Kaneko he will make efforts to bring the reclamation project to completion in fiscal 2006.
Kaneko told reporters after his meeting with Yatsu, ''If the water gates were opened, it would dash the prospect that the reclamation work would be completed.''
Isahaya Bay is part of the Ariake Sea, an almost landlocked body of water surrounded by the prefectures of Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Saga and Fukuoka on Kyushu Island in southwestern Japan.