Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Mar 27:
Twenty two fishermen were arrested for unlawful fishing in Odishas’s Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, a senior forest officer said today.
The fishing vessel, with 22 people on board, had ventured into prohibited areas of the sanctuary flouting the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA) and rules of the marine sanctuary.
It was intercepted close to Nasi Island, the nesting ground of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles, Gahirmatha Forest Range Officer Subrat Patra said.
In view the mass nesting season of the Olive Ridley sea turtles, the state government has imposed a ban on fishing in the seawaters of the sanctuary to ensure safe nesting of the turtles.
Though mass nesting of these aquatic species ended almost a week ago, sporadic incidents of egg laying have been witnessed along the nesting grounds. As some female turtles were seen ashore, the prohibition remains in force in the area.
Forest officials said the arrested fishermen were later sent to jail custody under section-27, 29 and 31 of the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the OMFRA, 1982.
Over 25 trawlers were seized and at least 189 fishermen were arrested by mid February this year for illegal trawling and venturing into prohibited regions during the ongoing mass nesting season of the turtles, a forest department official said.
The Gahirmatha marine sanctuary is one of the world’s largest turtle nesting sites, where about a half a million endangered Olive Ridley turtles congregate in the sea waters between October and November and nest between December and March.
An estimated 4.14 lakh female turtles had come ashore at Babubali, Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 islands for the annual egg laying exercise along the northern Odisha coast, said to be the largest rookery of the Olive Ridley turtles, forest department sources said.