Astola Island to be country’s first Marine Protected Area: Minister of Climate Change

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PASNI, Apr 4 (APP): Astola Island will soon be declared the country’s first “Marine” protected area through absolute consensus among all concerned stakeholders, said Federal Minister of Climate Change, Zahid Hamid said here on Tuesday.
Talking to APP, he said Balochistan and federal governments alongwith Pakistan Navy and local community, as the major stakeholders, have unanimously agreed to get the island notified as protected area.
“Pakistan being signatory to a number of international treaties is obliged to get at-least 10% of its coastal area designated as protected land,” the minister said.
He said draft of the notification to declare Astola Island as protected zone has already been finalized and is needed to be signed by relevant stakeholders so as to fulfill the needed formality.
“My current visit to the site is part of measures required to meet the needed conditions,” he said in reply to a question.
“Pakistan will soon dedicate certain other coastal sites too as its marine protected areas,” he said mentioning that Astola Island is the beginning.
Under international laws absolute protection of available natural resources and prevention of environmental degradation of the “designated protected areas” have to be duly ensured by the signatory country and concerned stakeholders.
Federal Minister of Climate Change said Astola island will continue to be under the administration of Balochistan government with all needed assistance provided by federal government and Pakistan Navy.
To another query, he said the declaration of coastal area around Astola Island as protected zone will be largely beneficial for the area residents and local fishing community.
“It will not only protect their fishing rights and means of living but also prohibit exploitation of marine resources as registered in many of the coastal zones due to over fishing and application of mechanized methods,” he said.
Minister Zahid Ahmed in this regard particularly thanked Commander Coast, Rear Admiral Abdul Aleem for his cooperation and support extended to local communities.
Additional Secretary, Government of Balochistan, Dr. Umer and other concerned officials were also present on the occasion.