• Kyodo

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The agriculture ministry told Nagasaki Prefectural Government officials on Thursday that a land reclamation project in Isahaya Bay, which has been suspended since late February, will be partially resumed in fiscal 2001, ministry officials said.

Hitoshi Sato, head of a bureau to promote agricultural communities under the auspices of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, told Nagasaki Gov. Genjiro Kaneko and other officials that construction on the western portion of the reclaimed land, which has now dried out enough to be converted into agricultural land, will begin soon, according to the officials.

He did not, however, specify an exact date, they said.

The land reclamation project was put on hold in February following protests by local fishermen and seaweed farmers, who claimed the project had caused this season’s poor crop of “nori” seaweed in the area. The reclamation project is designed to create 1,840 hectares of farmland inside the bay.

Sato also told Kaneko that reclamation work on the east side of the project area, which is still under water, will not be resumed during this fiscal year, according to the officials. This statement is in line with a recommendation by a ministry panel that work that could have a negative impact on the water quality near the project should be suspended.

Prefectural assembly members who attended a meeting with Sato expressed dissatisfaction that the ministry did not specify when the project will be resumed, the officials said. They said work on the project should restart immediately as disaster prevention measures are urgently needed, the officials added.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kaneko echoed this sentiment, saying the ministry should be more responsible and decide exactly when work on the project will be resumed.

The ministry will provide similar explanations for its decision to three fishermen’s associations in Kyushu on Friday, the officials said.

The reclamation site is inside Isahaya Bay, which is separated from the ocean by a huge dike equipped with eight floodgates. The dike was built and the gates closed in 1997 in order to facilitate reclamation of the land.

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