A 44-member strong team comprising Chinese and Pakistani scientists completed their oceanographic expedition to Makran and returned to Karachi on Saturday after spending almost three weeks in the offshore waters, carrying out detailed geophysical, geological and oceanographic surveys and collecting samples for research. Seven members of Pakistani team were from the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and one from the Pakistan navy.
The Chinese side led by Prof Jian Lin, Deputy Director General, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology (SCSIO) comprised 35 scientists that came to Karachi onboard a research vessel named Shiyan 3.
“The NIO scientists had participated in the Chinese expedition to Antarctica and the Chinese expedition to Southern Indian Ocean. But, this was the first time the two countries conducted geological, geophysical and oceanographic surveys in the Arabian Sea,” he said, adding that the study site was the area in front of Pasni. DG NIO told Dawn.
Experts in the expedition included Dr Min Xu, Dr Fan Zhang, Dr Hongfeng Yang, Dr Gang Li, Imran Hasany, Waseem Haider, Sanober Kahkashan, Dr Noor Kalhoro, Khalid Mahmood, Anwar Zeb, Uzair Lodhi and Asad-Ullah Memon.
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Published in Dawn, february 4th, 2018
Astola island declared country’s first marine protected area
Astola island, a major biodiversity hotspot and the largest island along Pakistan’s coast, was declared the country’s first marine protected area through a notification issued by the Balochistan government on Thursday.
The island covers an area of about 400 square kilometres and is located 39km east of Pasni, Balochistan. It is home to several species of marine and terrestrial animals and plants. The deadly Russell’s viper (Echis carinatus astolae), a highly venomous snake, is endemic to the island. It also a nesting place for many sea birds, especially the greater crested tern (Thalasseus bergii), which have thousands of nests on the island.Astola Island’s sandy beaches are a nesting ground for green turtles and around 25 species of coral have been found in the ocean around it.
“By declaring the Astola island a marine protected area, Pakistan has started its compliance with the Aichi Target 11, which requires that by 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas are to be conserved,” Muhammad Moazzam Khan, technical adviser on marine fisheries with the WWF-P, said. The step taken by the Balochistan government would ensure that the island’s biodiversity would be protected, the use of deleterious fishing methods will be stopped and recreational activities would be controlled, he added.
“It will also ensure that protected, threatened and endangered species of crustaceans, coral, mammals, sharks, turtles, whales and mobulids will be conserved. Moreover, whale sharks, sunfish, guitarfish and seabirds will not be harvested or killed,” he said.
“Subsequently, a motion submitted from Pakistan was adopted at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 calling for the declaration of Astola Island as a marine protected area in Pakistan,” he recalled.
Citing international conventions on nature conservation, he pointed out that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 had called for conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development (SDG 14).
“Change in land and sea use shall not be allowed in the protected area except with prior permission of the government, where the change is likely to enhance the conservation value of the protected area in terms of biodiversity and other elements of nature subject to and within the permitted scope of Convention on Biological Diversity,” the notification says.
The UN Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf hason Friday 21st March 2015, announced adoption of the recommendations for Extension of Pakistan Continental Shelf. With this Pakistan’s continental shelf limits stands extended from 200 to 350 nautical miles, giving Pakistan sovereign rights over additional area of 50,000sq km beyond Pakistan’s Exclusive Economic Zone thus increasing Pakistan’s maritime area from 240,000 sq km at present to about 290,000 sq km.