Prep for opening Isahaya Bay gates to start in June

JIJI

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry plans to start preparing for an experimental opening of the Isahaya Bay floodgates in Nagasaki Prefecture in June.

The work might be delayed because the Nagasaki Prefectural Government and other entities are opposed to opening the floodgates, part of a controversial dike that was built for a major land reclamation project vehemently opposed by coastal fishermen.

The Fukuoka High Court ordered the central government in 2010 to open the gates by the end of December 2013 to see whether it would affect the environment in the Ariake Sea. The ruling was spurred by a lawsuit filed by fishermen in four prefectures on the Ariake Sea who argued the project had severely damaged their fishing grounds.

In Nagasaki, however, opposition is mounting because opening the gates will of course resoak the reclaimed areas, exposing them to high tides, salt water and reducing agricultural water.

But there are also concerns that clam and oyster farming inside the dike could be negatively affected.

To win over such opponents, the ministry plans to keep the water level inside the dike unchanged after the opening, introduce desalination equipment to ensure adequate supplies of agricultural water, and install drainage pumps to prevent salt pollution, ministry officials said Wednesday.