Bhubaneswar, Oct 24:
With the nesting season of the Olive Ridley sea turtles approaching, the state government today issued a notification banning movement of trawlers and fishing in river mouths of Dhamra, Devi and Rusikulya as well as Gahirmatha marine sanctuary limits for the next seven months to prevent turtle mortality.
The ban to be enforced from November 1 to May 31, under the Odisha Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982 and Odisha Marine Fishing Rules, 1983 prohibits operation of fishing trawlers boat and any machinery meant for fishing within 20 km offshore of coastal waters.
Ridleys, the endangered species, congregate in large numbers for mating close to the shoreline, in the same waters where artisanal fishermen operate. The mass mating of turtles normally starts in late October and continues till January. However, fishing in the coastline poses danger to the lives of endangered sea creatures which go for mass nesting in February-March.
The mass nesting event known as ‘arribada’is followed by another grand spectacle when millions of hatchlings emerge from the shallow sandy pits 45 days later and march into the sea.
The government has decided to constitute some teams for patroling along the coastline while forest officials will also seek support from the Coastguard, Marine police and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) personnel of Wheeler Island to protect these endangered marine species who are protected under the Migratory Species Convention and Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna.
Odisha coast is considered the only place apart from Costa Rica to witness mass nesting by Olive Ridleys. Between five lakh to 10 lakh turtles come to the state every year.
Coast Guard, Marine police and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) personnel of Wheeler Island team up to protect these endangered marine species who are protected under the Migratory Species Convention and Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna.
Odisha coast is considered the only place apart from Costa Rica to witness mass nesting by Olive Ridleys. Between five lakh to 10 lakh turtles come to the Odisha coast every year.
Our Kendrapada correspondent adds :
The Ridley turtles come in lakhs to the beaches of Gahiramatha sanctuary during the nesting season.
The Bhitarakania National Park authorities have also decided to organise awareness campaigns among the fishermen community for the purpose.
The forest officials are making efforts to set up 14 on-shore and two off-shore camps to keep a watch on the illegal entry of trawlers to the sanctuary during the ban period. The officials have also planned to set up artificial hatcheries for the turtle eggs.
“Night patrolling would be stepped up with the help of Coast Guard personnel and marine police during the ban period,” the DFO of Rajnagar Mangrove Forest and Wildlife Division Kedar Swain said.
Nearly 4.30 lakh Ridley turtles had come for mass nesting from March 17 to 21 this year at the Nasi II (south Nasi) beach of Gahiramatha and laid eggs. The forest personnel had arrested 160 people and seized 33 trawlers from the sanctuary during the turtle nesting season last year, DFO Swain said.
Though the mating of the turtles generally begins between last week of October and mid-November every year, experts however, suspect that the severe cyclonic storm Phailin might affect their congregation this year.