Ocean Keepers: Letter Writing | Healthy Oceans | Oceans | Our projects | Healthy Oceans | Issues
Photo: Ocean Keepers: Letter Writing

Letter writing is a great way to get decision-makers to take issues seriously. Whether you want to write to the editor of your community newspaper, your city or First Nations councillors, provincial representatives or MP, we can help. Our recent letter-writing campaigns have helped drive public discussion around ocean issues. We're lucky to live in a democratic society where letters do make a difference.

A Letter to the Editor is an easy way to make a big impact. The editorial page is the most read section of the newspaper. Even if the editor doesn't publish your letter, they pay attention — especially to well-written letters related to a recently published article.

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Tips for writing your letter to the editor:
  • Make it relevant: Make sure your topic is timely — write in response to a recent article.
  • Be concise: The first sentence should summarize your position. A common mistake is using the first paragraph (or the entire letter) to build to the point. Most editors read 2-3 sentences before making a decision to go on.
  • Mind your word count: Check the guidelines for the paper you are targeting. If they give a word count, follow it. If they don't, 200 words is generally considered the maximum length. Most papers don't consider letters that exceed the word count.
  • Check your spelling: Spell everything correctly and pay close attention to grammar. Editors choose well-written letters that meet their guidelines. We are happy to help you with editing if you send it to us first.
  • Submit the letter: When you send your letter to paper, paste your letter directly into the body of an email rather than sending as an attachment. Many editors won't open attachments. Make sure to send a copy of the letter to pacific@davidsuzuki.org so we know what you've been up to. Of course, please let us know if and when your letter has been published.

Suggested current topic for your letters:

Chinook salmon is a food source B.C.'s endangered southern resident killer whales depend on to survive. Since December, our spirits have been lifted by the birth of four baby southern resident killer whales. These births offer a glimmer of hope for a population down to only 81 whales. One of the best hopes for these babies' (and their mothers') survival is protecting chinook salmon, their primary food source. Chinook salmon populations on the South Coast are themselves depleted, however. Canada has posted a recovery strategy for resident killer whales, but a strategy is not enough. The federal government urgently needs to take concrete action to protect the chinook stocks that southern residents need to survive and thrive.

It took years of legal action to ensure that the federal recovery strategy for southern resident killer whales included chinook salmon recovery. However, the fishing reductions are minimal and not part of a clear strategy to boost chinook populations for the benefit of the southern resident killer whales. A healthy population of chinook salmon is integral to the ocean, river and forest ecosystems of the West Coast and to the fishing industry that provides a livelihood for many people. Recovering these salmon stocks is critical for the whales' survival.

Write to a local newspaper that has covered the births of the new killer whales and make the link to the importance of protecting chinook salmon.

  • Review our tips for writing letters to the editor, above
  • Write your own letter to the editor (no more than 200 words) linking it to a recent article about the ocean if possible.
  • Send it to us if you would like some feedback
  • Submit it to a British Columbian newspaper. If you don't live in B.C., feel free to write to your local paper, but please also submit it to a paper in B.C. to focus attention.
  • Send us a copy at pacific@davidsuzuki.org so we can keep track.

Have any questions? Drop us a line at pacific@davidsuzuki.org.

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/projects/healthy-oceans/ocean-keepers-letter-writing/