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Letter to Editor: Preserving Xiaoliuqiu island

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(Tourism Bureau photo)

(Tourism Bureau photo)

Dear Editor:

I recently read the CNA article “Taiwan’s Liuqiu island in danger of losing its exceptional corals,” and I found the problem of losing corals at Xiaoliuqiu (Liuqiu island) to be extremely critical. I can still remember about six years ago when I first traveled to the island.

The natural beauty and especially the coral reefs fascinated me. I’m currently an international Taiwanese student attending the University of Texas at Austin, and Xiaoliuqiu Island is one of the places on my bucket list to go when I come back to Taiwan for break. Seeing this news about the dying corals and the threat to species that rely on them concerns me.

In regard to the problem, I agree that we should make changes to the tourism of Xiaoliuqiu. However, I find that restricting or shutting down tourism in some parts of it is not the best solution. A lot of people on the island rely heavily on tourism to live, so the best compromise for both the government and the people is to introduce the idea of sustainable tourism and include more educational content on the tours of the island.

A lot of other countries are already implementing the idea of sustainable tourism. In Fiji, for instance, the tourism industry came up with the idea of introducing a solar-powered resort that perfectly displays how sustainable tourism can work. It’s not only a chance to solve the pollution problem, but also to educate people about what sustainability is.

Furthermore, there are several issues that cause the degradation of the corals and are in urgent need of awareness. First, the pollution from tourism that was discussed in the article is a huge problem. Second, the problem of rising temperatures that led to the heatwave that Taiwan experienced a few years ago is a serious one. Third, other sources of pollution such as eutrophication, solid waste, and sewage waste only exacerbate the island's woes. Lastly, ocean acidification is a problem that hasn't received the attention it deserves in the public discourse on Xiaoliuqiu's preservation.

Other than the fast-paced problems that are happening right now, we should also focus on and raise awareness of those slower and longer-term problems such as ocean acidification and climate change that are killing the corals in Taiwan. We’ll all have to eventually deal with global warming, and we need better plans to protect the coral reefs and marine ecosystem around Taiwan.

Sincerely,

Ethan Huang (黃譯陞)