DiCaprio greets Bangladesh for protecting St. Martin
Published: 02:45 PM, 22 January 2022 Updated: 05:32 PM, 22 January 2022
St. Martin Island (Leonardo DiCaprio in inset)
Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has congratulated the Bangladesh government for declaring St. Martin, the only coral island in the country, a ‘Marine Protected Area’ (MPA).
Leonardo DiCaprio also congratulated the local people of St. Martin and the NGOs working on the island’s biodiversity.
DiCaprio congratulated in a post from his verified Facebook page on Friday. The ‘Titanic’ star DiCaprio, 47, has already introduced himself as an “environmentalist”.
Hoping that various initiatives with St. Martin would protect the marine biodiversity of Bangladesh and make it a habitat for corals, DiCaprio further said, “Everyone should now focus on protecting the overall environment of the island.”
In his congratulatory message, DiCaprio wrote, “St. Martin, the only coral island in Bangladesh, is rich in biodiversity. This newly declared marine protected area spans 672 square miles on Bangladesh’s southernmost tip and the tropical waters are home to the country’s only corals, as well as pods of elusive Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and endangered whale sharks, now sheltered by the region’s newest protected area. Thanks to a partnership between the Government of Bangladesh, local communities and NGOs working for this initiative for declaring St. Martin a Marine Protected Area (MPA)
He further writes, “Next steps will be to develop a science-based, community-informed management plan, raise awareness about regulations in the MPA, build capacity for conducting government and community-led enforcement and monitoring patrols, controlling domestic waste, and beginning to restore degraded corals.”
St. Martin, an 8.3-sq km coral island, is located in the heart of the sea, near the Myanmar border adjacent to the far Southeast of Bangladesh. Administratively, it is a union territory of Teknaf upazila in Cox’s Bazar district. There are nine villages in all with around 10,000 permanent residents.
To achieve the Blue Economy Enrichment and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG-14), the Bangladesh government on January 8 declared the 1,743 sq km area of the Bay of Bengal as “St. Martin Marine Protected Area (MPA)”.
St. Martin’s Island is a breeding ground for sea turtles. At one time, the island consisted of many species of plants and animals including 68 species of corals, 151 species of algae, 191 species of mollasts, 40 species of crabs, 234 species of marine fish, five species of dolphins, four species of amphibians, 28 species of reptiles, 120 species of birds, 20 species of mammals, 175 species of plants, and 2 species of bats.
Many of these species are now on the verge of extinction. This biodiversity is also slowly disappearing due to climate change. Earlier, the government declared St. Martin’s Island an ‘Environmentally Critical Area’ in 1999 to protect biodiversity.