October 31, 2015

Odisha Channel Bureau KENDRAPARA: Odisha forest department has decided to clamp seven month long `fishing ban’ from November 1 to May 31 to protect the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles in the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, the world’s largest rookery of the sea turtles in Kendrapara district.Prohibition on fishing activity would provide safety ring around the sea turtles that are threatened with extinction.This is a prime feeding area for sea turtles that nest all the way up to the Gahirmatha beach and other areas.Trawlers and boatmen have also been directed not to fish within 20 km from coastline in the marine sanctuary areas covering 35 km long from Aagaranasi to Dhamara.turtle-nestingForest officials have already deployed forest guards to arrest the fishermen who will be dared to enter the marine sanctuary areas.In 1997, the government declared the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary to protect the marine turtles as each winter lakhs of turtles come to Gahirmatha coast for laying eggs.Gahirmatha beach is the largest rookery of the sea turtles in the world for which the government has banned all types of fishing for seven months to save the endangered marine species, said Bimal Prasanna Acharya, the divisional forest officer of Bhitarkanika national park.Turtles will arrive in November for mating on the sea water.Later, the female marine species will lay eggs in March. We established 15 turtle protection camps including three offshore camps at Aagaranasi, Barunei and Babubali islands to protect turtles in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.The policemen of marine police stations at Kharinashi and Paradip and coast guards will help the forest officials to prevent the illegal fishing this year, added the forest officer.The forest officials had arrested over 150 fishermen and had made a seizure of 63 trawls and crafts in Gahirmatha on the charges of illegal fishing in Gahirmatha, added the forest officerDespite all the protection to protect the turtles, a large number of turtles are being killed as the fishing trawlers are not using TED (Turtle Excluder Device). Seven years back, the forest department had made free distribution of 1800 TEDs to all the trawler owners to use the turtle protection device but nobody was using TED.However as per the Odisha Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982 the use of TED is mandatory for all the trawlers and fishing vessels, felt the animal rights activists.

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