Resolution Calling for the Prohibition of New Developments and Alternations of Coastal Zones and for the Advancement of the Conservation and Restoration of Coastal Zones in order to Recover the Abundant Ocean
Biodiversity is a basis of human life and its restoration is a critical human right issue. Especially, Japan is surrounded by the sea and has been benefiting from the coastal resources. Thus, the conservation of biodiversity in the coastal zones is also a critical human right issue in Japan.
In Japanese coastal zones, mud flats and shoals have decreased dramatically due to the reclamation of land, which splits the land and the sea. As a result, seaweeds, fish, shellfish, and benthos living in these areas have been disappearing. This phenomenon has led to the frequent occurrence of oxygen deficient water in the enclosed bay. This is coupled with eutrophication of water caused by the inflow of materials. These materials are polluting from the land. Such deterioration of water quality has resulted in a further loss of biodiversity in the coastal zones. In this sense, Japanese coastal zones have been trapped in a vicious circle. In addition, the decrease in the inflow of sands from the rivers, due to the construction of dams, has led to a setback of the beach and an erosion of the shore. Coastal environment in Japan is in a critical phase.
In the past, the regulations relating to coastal zones in Japan were comprised of only development laws, such as the Act Concerning the Reclamation of Public Water, and laws for protecting the shore, such as the Seashore Act. There was no law protecting the coastal environment by recognizing coastal zones integrally. Through the enactment of the Basic Act on Ocean Policy, the Japanese national government finally mapped out policies towards the coastal environment conservation, such as an integrated coastal management and coordination. Nonetheless, few concrete plans on the coastal management in each coastal unit (integrated coastal area such as an enclosed bay or a coastal line) have been formulated or implemented.
On the other hand, the destruction of coastal environments has continued, as shown in the case of the reclamation of the Awase Mudflat, in Okinawa.
First of all, in order to stop the deterioration of coastal environment, any alternation, including reclamation of land, which causes the deterioration shall be prohibited as a general rule.
Moreover, efforts for restoring the coastal zones, the environments that have been already destroyed due to the alteration, including the reclamation of land, shall be carried out. Such coastal zones shall be recovered to a state in which mud flats and shoals exist.
This effort of restoring coastal environment shall be implemented in a regional level. Each region is the most affected by its own coastal environment and each region has the best understanding of its situation.
Thus, we need a system that enables people in each integrated coastal area, such as an enclosed bay or a coastal line, to formulate and implement plans to manage their coastal zone in an integrated way. Local public bodies, such as cities, towns, and villages, shall take the lead while respecting opinions from the stakeholders affected the most by the coastal environment, as well as having the best understanding of the situation.
Therefore, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations calls for the following measures:
1. In pursuit of the conservation of coastal environment, the Japanese national and prefectural governments shall keep the present coastal lines and shall not develop or alter them as a general rule.
2. Considering basic principles, including the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of fishery resources, the Japanese national government shall establish more effective systems towards the restoration of the coastal environment, by reviewing development laws that would hinder the restoration.
3. The Japanese government shall take the following measures in order to achieve an integrated coastal management, including efforts towards the conservation and restorations of the coastal zones in a regional level:
(1) Establish the system that will enable each local public body in each coastal area to formulate and implement concrete plans by setting up councils comprised of the stakeholders.
(2) Support the system actively by taking budgetary measures and providing information necessary for the management of the system and the implementation of the plans.
October 5, 2012
Japan Federation of Bar Associations