Target: Jiang Daming, Chinese Minister of Land and Resources
Goal: Protect a marine ecosystem from environmental degradation caused by overfishing and the construction of artificial islands.
Since 2014, China has been throwing environmental concerns by the wayside and rapidly destroying the South China Sea. The construction of artificial islands, along with constant overfishing, could cause irreversible damage to this important marine ecosystem.
In an effort to lay unmistakable claim to the majority of the area, Beijing has begun constructing artificial islands among the naturally occurring reefs and rock structures known as Spratly Islands. These synthetic islands are produced by dredging up sand from within atolls, causing expansive damage to these ring-shaped reefs that can be seen via satellite. The construction of artificial islands doesn’t just alter fragile landscapes. Dredging activities tear up sections of ocean floor, killing endangered species, such as giant clams and turtles. The sediment that is loosened also blankets fragile reefs, suffocating and killing them.
The reefs of Spratly Islands are some of the most productive in the world with a reported 571 different species of coral. With reef ecosystems in serious decline across the globe due to pollution and climate change, these deliberately destructive actions must be stopped. Reefs are not only havens of biodiversity, they also serve as wave-breaks for coastlines, providing a vital line of protection from tsunamis and typhoons.
To make ecological matters worse, many areas in the South China Sea are also seriously overfished. Some Chinese fishermen even use destructive techniques such as explosives and cyanide to decimate populations. Fish stocks in the South China Sea are important to food security for China and other surrounding countries. The stability and health of these marine ecosystems must take precedence over territorial disputes if the sea is to remain productive in the future. Please urge the Minister of Land and Resources to halt these destructive activities immediately.
Dear Minister Daming,
I am very concerned by China’s blatant disregard for the environmental condition of the South China Sea. The dredging of atolls in Spratly Islands tears up the ocean floor, killing endangered species such as giant clams and turtles. The construction of artificial islands also covers fragile coral reefs in harsh sediment, suffocating these biologically diverse ecosystems.
I understand there are territorial disputes taking place in the South China Sea. However, decimating the environment in the area benefits no one. Reef systems don’t just serve as safe havens for thousands of marine species, they also make up important wave breaks that protect coastlines from tsunamis and tropical storms. Additionally, the fisheries of the South China Sea are an important food source to China and the other surrounding countries. Threatening fish populations through activities that destroy their habitat, as well as overfishing, could lead to local extinction of species and, thus, a severe depletion of fish stocks.
I urge you to please consider the future implications of destroying this important marine ecosystem. Any short term gains drawn from island building and unchecked fishing will likely not be worth the potentially permanent toll these actions will create. Please put a stop to this catastrophic damage and halt environmentally destructive activity in the South China Sea.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Phalinn Ooi