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Rethinking the tideland issue of Isahaya bay



On April 10, 1999, the symposium "Revive! Isahaya tideland" was held at Toraya No. 2 building in Tokyo and member of parliament (House of Representatives) Tatsuo Sasayama participated as a panelist.

This symposium was organized to commemorate the second anniversary of the shutdown of Isahaya bay as well as to take the opportunity to again think about wetland issues in Japan as the 7th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention -The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat-, an international effort to conserve wetlands, will be held in Costa Rica next month.

The symposium was organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature, Japan Committee and other environmental NGOs.

M.P. Sasayama expressed the following opinions during the panel discussion:
  1. There are both merits and demerits regarding the Isahaya bay issue.

    Merits are...

    1. Formation of the so-called "Isahaya effect", by which the significance of tidelands and wetlands came to be recognized among the public and affected positively on the subsequent issues in Fujimae tideland and Sanbanse tideland.

    2. Emergence of a new type of NGO, i.e. advocacy groups.

    3. Changes in related ministries and agencies' attitudes toward tidelands and wetlands

    Demerits are...

    1. That there has never been a round-table discussion between related ministries, and agencies and NGOs.

    2. That the scale of the issue was contained within the small frame of "either mutsugoro (a kind of mudskipper indigenous to the bay) or humans" or the "problem in Nagasaki prefecture" - a regional problem.

    3. That political parties and politicians could not continuously tackle this issue.

  2. Problems and future measures are as follows:

    1. It is time to think about durable measures to protect tidelands and wetlands, not just as an individual issue.

    2. The attitudes of administrations are inconsistent, saying "No" to cancellation of land reclamation by drainage in Isahaya but "Ok" to that in Fujimae and Sanbanse. However, this inconsistency cannot be justified because the scale and ecological values of Isahaya as a tideland is not inferior to the others.

    3. Politicians and political parties responding only to topical environmental issues, such as dioxin and so-called environmental hormones (endocrine disrupters), raise questions as to the need for setting up a political agenda aimed at developing a more sustainable movement and durable solutions.



  3. Future challenges to solve are as follows:

    1. Paying attention to responses of prefectural governments and seeking a point where compromise can be made in terms of downsizing the projects hurting the environment.

    2. Diverse alternatives must be submitted from our side as well. Also, when mitigation methods for environmental damage are introduced, guidelines and compensation should be reviewed.

    3. Establishing cross-border ecological networks, such as Natura 2000, reconstruction of national strategy on biological diversity and formulation of an action plan are urgently required.


NGO participants agreed with the above mentioned opinions of M.P. Sasayama.