/

Court bars opening of Isahaya Bay dike

Kyodo

The Nagasaki District Court on Tuesday issued an injunction barring the government from opening the floodgates of the Isahaya Bay dike.

The injunction was sought by local farmers who remain opposed to the planned opening of two floodgates for five years to examine damage to the local environment and fishing.

The decision was made ahead of the Dec. 20 deadline for the government to open the gates in the bay in line with a 2010 Fukuoka High Court ruling.

In December 2010, the high court ordered the two floodgates opened after a three-year preparation period, ruling in favor of local fishermen who claim the government’s 50-year project to fill in parts of the bay to create farmland, completed in 2008, has caused a decline in fish and seaweed hauls.

The district court decision contradicts the high court ruling and makes it difficult for the government to meet the Dec. 20 deadline.

The district court said if the gates were opened, it was “highly likely that the rights of farmers would be violated” and that the planned research on damage to the local environment would not “serve public needs and interests.”

The ruling also stated it is unlikely that the government can construct the necessary facility in preparation for the planned study.

The gates have been shut since 1997 as part of the public works project, which has created some 670 hectares of farmland at a cost of ¥253.3 billion.

The government was supposed to construct a facility to prevent damage to agricultural land during the three-year moratorium, but has been unable to do so due to resistance from about 40 individuals and corporations engaged in farming on the filled-in land.

The farmers have insisted that if the gates are opened, the inflow of seawater could cause floods and salt damage to the reclaimed land and make it difficult to secure water for agricultural use.

The government has argued that it is possible to prevent flooding and salt damage to farmland by regulating the amount of incoming seawater through the proper management of water levels within the dike.

It also said alternative water sources can be secured by setting up a facility for desalinating seawater.

The bay, in Nagasaki Prefecture, is the largest in Kyushu.