St. Martin’s Island, 12 kilometers from mainland Bangladesh, is home to the only coral habitat in the country, with 66 known species. The island is approximately eight square kilometers in area and is home to 8,000 permanent residents. During the past decade, tourism spread over the north zone of the island. In the winter months, mass tourism contributes to plastic pollutants and sedimentation in the water, hampering coral growth.
Local NGO MarineLife Alliance has taken the initiative to conserve the marine biodiversity of Bangladesh’s southeastern coast, including St. Martin’s Island. It is working with the local community to help conserve its marine resources and ameliorate the damage caused by unsustainable tourism activities and other destructive practices. The communities on St. Martin’s will establish a six-square-kilometer (1,480-acre) marine protected area for 10 years.
The community is in need of a primary school for the island’s south zone. Because the closest primary school is four kilometers to the north, many young children do not attend school. Seacology is funding the construction of a school in the southern part of the island. The grant will also pay for buoys, guard sheds, signage, a center for marine activities, and other conservation-related items.