Campaign for marine life lost as bay closes

NAGASAKI — The agriculture ministry began working April 14 to close off the inside of Isahaya Bay in Nagasaki Prefecture — a move that will consign death to mudskippers and other marine creatures on the largest dry beach in Japan.

The land reclamation project has been meeting increasing resistance since environmentalists filed a law suit last July in a bid to obtain a court order to stop the project. Insects and other indigenous bay life were named as codefendants. But on April 14, several hundred steel sheets were inserted to remotely close the 1.2-km opening to the 7-km embankment.

The work to shut the bay and its 3,000 hectare dry beach signifies that another battle waged against large development projects has failed, as the bid to stop construction of the Nagara River dam in central Japan did also. According to the ministry, the tide embankment will be essential to flood control on the reclaimed area. Water levels in the bay will be controlled by two gates to protect the reclaimed land from tides and floods, it said. The land reclamation project got under way in 1985.