To: The Honorable ROH Moo Hyun, President of the Republic of Korea
Japan Wetlands Action Network is a national network of over 60 Japanese wetland conservation groups, established in 1991. Today, we sponsored a symposium that explored the results of the Eighth Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention's in Valencia (November, 2002), and in particular three wetlands that are facing extinction despite the injunction of the Ramsar Convention to protect and wisely use wetlands.
We heard a report about Saemangeum wetland, and were moved to adopt the enclosed statement. Further, we would like to specifically call upon you to immediately halt construction on the dike that, if completed as planned, will close off this precious tidal wetland from the life-giving sea.
We ask this for several clear-cut reasons.
- Saemangeum is a wetland of great importance not only in the Asian region, but globally, for its biological and cultural diversity, on a much greater scale than any wetland in Japan.
- Saemangeum serves as a vital habitat site for migratory waterbirds shared by Japan and Korea.
- Japan has had a bitter experience with respect to the Isahaya Land Reclamation Project in Nagasaki. Although the Japanese government continues construction on this project, many fishermen are suffering from the ecological deterioration in adjacent area of the Ariake Sea, which they blame on the Isahaya project. In national public opinion, the Isahaya project symbolizes wasteful public works and destruction of the natural environment. The Isahaya tragedy has, ironically, raised awareness about the preciousness of tidal flat wetlands.
For these reasons, we call for the halt of the Saemangeum reclamation project, and reconsideration of alternative development for the region that will make wise use of its biological and cultural diversity.