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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt wants visitors to discover its Mediterranean coast at a marine reserve being established near the border with Libya, the government said on Tuesday.
"The goal is to protect endangered species ... and encourage ecotourism in the reserve area, putting it on the global ecotourism map," Environment Minister Maged George said.
The 383-sq km (150-square-mile) reserve, mostly in the water in the Gulf of el-Salloum, is Egypt's 28th nature protectorate, but its first on the Mediterranean.
"Declaring this protectorate is a way to confront a host of environmental problems, such as soil degradation and coastal inundation, climate change and loss of biological diversity," George said in a statement, adding that the area was rich in natural resources.
The protectorate contains more than 160 migratory and local bird species, about 30 reptile and amphibian species and 10,000 to 12,000 marine species. Its creation should encourage scientific research on biological diversity in Egypt, he said.
Tourism accounts for about 11 percent of Gross Domestic Product and is an important source of foreign currency and jobs in Egypt.
In a move to encourage sound environmental practices, the government has begun a $238 million project to slash carbon emissions in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.