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Government considering to declare Astola island protected marine area.

Summary: There is no source of fresh water on the island and the vegetation depends on occasional rainfall

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Islamabad: The government is considering a proposal to declare Astola island in Balochistan a protected marine area, the first of its kind in the country.

According to official sources, the proposal will be put before the Cabinet for approval. Administratively, the island is part of the Pasni sub-district of Gwadar district in Balochistan province.

Astola Island, also known as 'Jezira haft tala satadip' or 'Island of the seven hills', is a small uninhabited Pakistani island in the Arabian Sea, approximately 25km south of the nearest part of the coast and 39km southeast of the fishing port of Pasni.

The island is a wonder of nature with crystal clear water, pristine beaches, unique rock formations and exotic turtles and other rare species. Vegetation on the island is sparse and largely consists of scrubs and large bushes. There are no trees on the island. The largest shrub on the island is Prosopis juliflora, which was introduced into South Asia in 1877 from South America. There is no source of fresh water on the island and the vegetation depends on occasional rainfall and soil moisture for survival. Astola is also home to coral reef.

In 1982, the Government of Pakistan installed a lighthouse on the island for the safety of passing vessels, which was replaced by a solar-powered one in 1987.

Astola is Pakistan's largest offshore island at approximately 6.7km long with a maximum width of 2.3km and an area of approximately 6.7km. The highest point is 246ft above sea level. The island can be accessed by motorised boats from Pasni, with a journey time of about five hours to reach the island.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:May 29, 2017
Words:308
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