Bangladesh has announced the creation of a new 1,743-square-km/672-square-mile marine protected area.
The new MPA is centered around Saint Martin’s Island, which hosts an enormous amount of biodiversity and is home to the country’s only coral reef that has more than 230 finfish species.
The island, known locally as “Coconut Island,” has 7,000 residents who rely heavily on seasonal tourism for their livelihoods. The designation of the waters around the island as an MPA aims to protect them from the over-exploitation caused by the booming tourist industry.
The new MPA will not only protect the local wildlife but also migrating species in the area like whale sharks, green, loggerhead, olive ridley turtles, and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins.
According to Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Deputy Minister Habibun Nahar:
“The St. Martin’s Island MPA, together with the existing Swatch-of-no-ground MPA and two other marine reserves declared by the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, brings Bangladesh one step closer towards achieving our national goal and international obligation under the Convention on Biodiversity and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to protect 10 percent of our marine waters.”