Subject: [cwj 11] Environmentalists in Korea, Japan call for halt to Saemangum project
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Tue, 09 May 2000 14:27:51 -0700
Seq: 11

Korea Herald
Environmentalists in Korea, Japan call for halt to Saemangum project

Environmental groups in Korea and Japan urged the Korean government
yesterday to immediately end a reclamation project in North Cholla
Province, saying the nation risks losing one of the world's most precious
tidal flats.

The Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), the nation's
largest environmental group, and the Japan Wetlands Action Network (JAWAN)
issued a joint declaration calling on the government to halt the Saemangum
Reclamation Project. 

In the declaration, the two groups characterized the project, which is
aimed at reclaiming about 40,000 ha of mud flats on the northwestern coast
of the province, as the world's "most destructive reclamation project."

They also said a weeklong joint survey had shown that the region's mud flat
is one of the most valuable tidal flat ecosystems in the world.

"The government has been saying that the project would increase the
nation's farmlands, help secure water resources and prevent flooding," the
declaration read. "However, Japan's largest-ever reclamation project, in
Isahaya Bay, shows that they are wrong."

Hirofumi Yamashita, co-head of JAWAN, said that despite the Japanese
government's claim that the Isahaya Bay Reclamation Project, which turned
about 3,500 ha of tidal flats into farmland, would also help prevent
flooding, 90 percent of Isahaya residents had to evacuate the area last
year due to a large-scale flood.

"The flood damage increased because the government failed to inform Isahaya
residents that floodwaters would flow to farmlands if the Isahaya sluice
gates were kept closed during a flood at a full tide," Yamashita said.

Choi Yul, head of the KFEM, said that if the Saemangum project goes ahead,
the reclaimed area would be just as susceptible as Isahaya to flooding at
high tide. 

Choi also accused the Saemangum project operator, the Korea Agricultural &
Rural Infrastructure Corporation (KARIC), of being ignorant of the
ecosystem of tidal flats.

"KARIC's publicity booklets say that mud flats continued to form in Isahaya
after the reclamation project," Choi said. "This is totally wrong. It is
only hundreds of years after a reclamation project that stable tidal flats
can be expected to form."

Calling on the Korean government to abide by an international resolution
adopted last year at a Ramsar Convention on wetlands protection, the two
environmental groups pledged to work closely to derail the Saemangum
project and open the sluice gates at Isahaya Bay.

Updated: 05/09/2000
by Chang Jae-soon Staff reporter
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