While the coast of Karachi is very well known; very little is known about the Astola Island (Island of Seven Hills). It is a very small uninhabited island, 39 kilometres east of Pasni, in Balochistan. It is known to be the home of rare species; both marine and terrestrial. Russell’s viper, a highly venomous snake, a number of sea birds, green turtles, 25 different species of coral, and the Arabian Sea Humpback whale are some of the species that are found in and around the island.

When a country is home to such rare species, it is required to preserve their environment, and also ensure that they do not go extinct. It is a huge development that the Balochistan government has realised the need to take responsibility for the island and ensure its survival. It has declared the island, a Marine Protected Area (MPA). This falls directly in line with the Aichi Target 11 and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

CBD requires nations to designate, regulate and manage geographically-defined areas (MPAs) to achieve specific conservation objectives. Aichi Target on the other hand requires that by 2020 at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas are to be conserved.

The work on the initiative started back in 2015. The government created a working group, whose job was to identify potential sites for being declared MPAs.

The announcement includes prohibition on any change in land and its dimensions, unless previously allowed by the government. All activities on the island will be strictly monitored. Changes will only be allowed if they help in the process of preservation. Several conservationists have appreciated the announcement and are declaring it as the first step towards detection of such areas and pushing towards their maintenance.

However, as good as it sounds; we are all well aware of how policy frameworks are always readily available and worked upon in Pakistan. When it comes to their implementation; rarely do people and governmental bodies take responsibility.