Isahaya floodgates to open in December 2013

JIJI

Agriculture minister Akira Gunji has informed Nagasaki Gov. Hodo Nakamura that the floodgates of the Isahaya Bay dike, built for a reclamation project, will be opened in December 2013.

This is the first time the central government has clarified a specific schedule for opening the gates in line with an order from a high court.

In December 2010, the Fukuoka High Court ordered the central government to keep the gates open for five years, ruling in favor of local fishermen who claim the reclamation project, overseen by the agriculture ministry, has changed tidal currents and damaged the fishing environment.

The central government opted not to appeal the ruling and is required to open the gates by December 2013 after a three-year moratorium designed to allow time for flood-prevention work.

Nagasaki Prefecture has opposed opening the gates due to concerns of flooding and the adverse effects on farms created when parts of the bay were closed off to the sea and filled in with land.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Sunday with Nakamura, Gunji said the government has abandoned plans to appeal the court decision. He expressed plans continue talks with Nagasaki to win its support for the gate-opening.

In the talks, Gunji signaled the central government’s readiness to pay compensation for damage caused by opening the gates and briefed the governor on a plan to establish a desalination facility to provide fresh water for agricultural use on the reclaimed land to substitute for the reservoir water that will mix with seawater once the gates are opened.