Moynaq is a city in northern Karakalpakstan province in western Uzbekistan. Formerly an active fishing sea port, it is now home to only a few thousand residents since the 1980s due to the recession of the Aral Sea. Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 km2(26,300 sq mi), the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects (to raise cotton). By 2007, it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into four lakes. The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called “one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters”. The region’s once-prosperous fishing industry has been essentially destroyed, bringing unemployment and economic hardship. In an ongoing effort in Kazakhstan to save and replenish the North Aral Sea, a dam project was completed in 2005; in 2008, the water level in this lake had risen by 12 m (39 ft) compared to 2003. Salinity has dropped, and fish are again found in sufficient numbers for some fishing to be viable.