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Pakistan has declared largest offshore island, Jazira Haft Talar commonly known as Astola as its first Marine Protected Area.

Radio Pakistan correspondent Sophia Siddiqui reports that the declaration of Marine Protected Areas is an international obligation of the Federal Government under the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Aichi Biodiversity.

Pakistan signed the agreement in 2016 after attending the Oceans Conference in Washington.

Under the agreement member countries have to declare at least 10 percent of their coastal and marine areas as Marine Protected Area.

Efforts are underway to declare the Indus Canyon and several other sites including Churna Island and Miani Hor as Marine Protected Areas thus meeting Pakistan's target of nearly 27,000 square kilometer before 2020.

Astola Island is located approximately 25 km off the coast of Pasni, Balochistan province. Spanning over 6.7 square kilometer it is Pakistan's largest offshore island.

The island is ecologically important as its beaches provide nesting ground for the endangered green turtle and hawks-bill turtle, while also supporting a large variety of migratory birds. The Astola saw-scaled viper is endemic to the island.

The island's vegetation consists of scrubs and large bushes. The island's marine ecology supports a variety of corals, creating a breeding ground for a vast range of marine species.


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