U.S. supports efforts to restore Aral Sea

U.S. Consul General Mark Moody visits the Kokaral dam in the Northern section of the Aral Sea (U.S. Consulate photo)

ALMATY (TCA) — Mark Moody, U.S. Consul General in Almaty, Kazakhstan, observed notable progress toward the restoration of the Northern section of the Aral Sea during his visit to the Aral region from March 31 to April 2, the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty said.

“The United States is proud to have supported efforts to restore the Northern Aral,” said U.S. Consul General Moody visiting the Kokaral dam. “I was inspired by the resilience of the people of the Aral region. Thanks to their resilience and hard work, our joint efforts have brought promising changes.”

Local fish-industry representatives, independent environmental experts, and Aral Region officials noted that the Northern Aral Sea’s volume has increased significantly since the completion of the Kokaral dam in 2005. The United States is the largest investor of the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which financed the Kokaral dam project with $64.5 million.

Joining Consul General Moody at the Kokaral dam, the akim of neighboring Karateren district noted that the restored water levels had made a positive impact on the local environment and public health, decreased maternal and infant mortality, and creation of new jobs.

“I was pleased to learn that the Sea has now returned to 15 kilometers from Aral and the increase in fish production has created thousands of local jobs, helping the local population to rebound to over 78,000 people,” said Consul General Moody during his visit to two of the eight fish processing factories.  Fishing industry leaders said the number of fish species in Aral Sea had increased from only 2 to 22 varieties.  Because their factories meet European standards, they are able to export fish to the European Union and elsewhere in the region.

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Times of Central Asia