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    Friday, June 16, 2017

    Astola Island declared Pakistan's first marine protected area

    Balochistan government on Thursday issued a notification declaring Astola Island as the first dedicated marine protected area in the country.

    Home to several species of marine and terrestrial animals and plants, Astola is located about 39 kilometres east of Pasni in Balochistan and is considered the largest island along the coast of Pakistan.
    The island is uninhabited but has breath-taking views and 200ft high cliffs. Locally called ‘Haft Talar’, it consists of a large tilted plateau and a series of seven small hillocks, with deep chasms and crevices, which are several feet wide.,Astola is  also known as Jezira Haft Talar Satadip or 'Island of the Seven Hills', is a small uninhabited Pakistani island in the Arabian Sea approximately 25 km (16 mi) south of the nearest part of the coast and 39 km (24 mi) southeast of the fishing port of Pasni. Astola is Pakistan's largest offshore island at approximately 6.7 km (4.2 mi) long with a maximum width of 2.3 km (1.4 mi) and an area of approximately 6.7 km(2.6 sq mi). The highest point is 246 ft (75 m) above sea level. Administratively, the island is part of the Pasni subdistrict of Gwadar District in Balochistan province. The island can be accessed by motorized boats from Pasni, with a journey time of about 5 hours to reach the island.
    Pakistan declared Astola as its first Marine Protected Area in June 2017 as part an international obligation of the Federal Government under the Convention on Biological Diversity 
    The endangered green turtle and the hawksbill turtle nest on the beach at the foot of its cliffs. It is also an important area for endemic reptiles such as the Astola viper. The island is reported to support a large number of breeding water birds, including coursers, curlews, godwit, gulls, plovers and sanderling. It is also home to coral reef with around 25 species of coral found in the ocean around the island.
    The WWF-Pakistan congratulated the secretary Forest and Wildlife Department of Balochistan for his action over the Astola Island Marine Protected Area (AIMPA). 

    Fishermen trained in rescuing sea creatures by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan rescued a bottlenose dolphin trapped in a fishing net near Malan Island off the coast of Balochistan.
    The three-metre-long dolphin, locally known as tushuk, was caught in a gillnet placed for tuna, said fisherman Hasnat Khan whose crew rescued the animal on Wednesday.
    The dolphin was struggling to escape and as soon as the fishing crew noticed it, they stopped their operations. “After a struggle of about half an hour, we cut the net and safely rescued the dolphin,” said Khan.
    Dolphins are extremely vulnerable to becoming entangled in fishing nets. Once they are stuck, they cannot swim up to the surface for air and end up dying.According to Muhammad Moazzam Khan, the WWF-Pakistan’s technical adviser for marine fisheries, over 100 fishermen working in Pakistani waters have been trained to rescue marine animals if they are stuck in nets.
    Moazzam said every year a large number of dolphins become entangled in gillnets across the world, but as they are considered sacred animals, fishermen did not kill them.
    “The WWF-Pakistan trains fishermen to make all efforts possible to protect marine megafauna including whales, dolphins, whale sharks, sunfishes, mobula rays and turtles,” he added.
    “Hundreds of these animals are safely released back into the sea every year by these trained fishermen.”
    Bottlenose dolphins are the most common of the 22 species of cetaceans, including whales and dolphins, found in Pakistan.
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    Item Reviewed: Astola Island declared Pakistan's first marine protected area Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar