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South Korean Government ignores both Saemangeum Legal Ruling and international opinion.

As regular fatbirder Surfers will already know, on July 15th a Korean mid-level court made a historic ruling stating that the Saemangeum reclamation project must stop, effective immediately. The ruling was welcomed by environmental groups, the 3,539 local citizens who brought the case against the government, and the majority of the population of the nation. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, however, appealed the ruling, and insisted that work should be allowed to continue. The date for the appeal was set for August 26th. On August 23rd, though, Korean NGO Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM) photographed reclamation work continuing, with rocks being dumped to close gaps in the unfinished 33 km long sea wall. As reported in the Hangyoreh newspaper (August 25th) this appears to be in clear contradiction of the court ruling. This apparent decision to ignore the court ruling by the Ministry of Agriculture is not unexpected. They have also ignored months of protests by some of the world`s largest environmental groups including visits in August 2003 to several South Korean embassies worldwide (by WBKEnglish and leading organizations including Birdlife International, RSPB, WWF and Friends of the Earth).International protests are centring on South Korea`s apparent disregard for the international conventions that it has signed, which should ensure the conservation of Saemangeum and the migratory bird populations which depend upon it. It is good to be able to report then that the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Hon Dr David Kemp MP, has made diplomatic and official representations to express concern about the Saemangum [sic] tidal flat reclamation. wbkenglish are working to ensure that the first overseas Government to express its concern will also not be the last. The controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the reclamation and the anticipated impacts of this project on populations of migratory birds as well as on fishing communities and regional fisheries, continues to deepen…As ever the wbkenglish website contains updated information, including online copies of the protest letters from last weeks Embassy visits and Dr Kemp`s letter referred to above. See: http://www.wbkenglish.com/saemref.asp They have also written a press-release that is available on request. The WBKEnglish/KFEM Petition - which is proving to be a strong message of support for Korean environmentalists - is still there too: and wbkenglish pass their thanks again to everyone who has signed it and passed the URL around.Fatbirder regulars will also want to know that PROACT has joined the fray and they too are supporting the campaign ? if you are already a Proact supporter go to their website to join in your country?s protest!

4th July 2014