St. Martin's Island near Bangladesh is threatened by environmental collapse.
St. Martin's Island is the most attractive coral island in the Bay of Bengal with beaches fringed with coconut palms and bountiful marine life. It measures only 8 sq km, shrinking to 5 sq km during high tide. Most of the island's 5,500 inhabitants live primarily on fishing.
The marine life around the Coral island, located near Cox's Bazar that has the longest natural beach in the world, is unique and diverse. The island is home to a composite mosaic of life. On land, it has fine sand beaches which are vital nesting places for sea turtles, and the forests that line the shore are home to a myriad bird species. Below the water is a rich ecosystem — coral and marine life for which Bangladesh is famed.
During the day, the island comes alive with water and beach sports, with beach parties and bonfires lighting up the evening skies. But the growing number of tourists to the tiny island has already caused concern as environmentalists fear that the island is in peril. Biodiversity is undermined in the island by irreversible species loss, threatening the basic life support systems upon which much life, both human and otherwise, depends.
Sea liners and tourist boats bring thousands of people each week. Reports suggest that overfishing has already reduced fishery stocks around St. Martin's. Fishing has pressured the delicate coral resulting in damage to the unique reefs that lie below the water. As the demand for land increases, trees and vital biodiversity habitats are destroyed to make way for new construction and urban growth. Bangladesh, which is prone to natural disasters, is also likely to face the effects of climate change, compounding the reduction of biodiversity. For the people of St Martin's, experts say, successful diversification programmes would allow for the preservation of their lives on this island, in new and sustainable ways. Country's environment and forests minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud said that the government has been implementing various programmes to conserve bio-diversity of the island. The programmes include banning the setting up of mills and industries on the island to prevent sound pollution, catching and collection of different aquatic animals like sea turtles, coral and cutting of natural forests and trees. Experts fear that unless urgent measures are taken, the growing human pressure on the island will fatally endanger the St. Martin's island.