Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Jan 29:

Over 110 fishermen have been arrested in Odisha’s Kendrapara district for unlawful fishing activity at Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, the biggest rookery for Olive Ridley sea turtles, forest officials said today.

The Coast Guard personnel intercepted the trawlers near Satabhaya and arrested around 113 fishermen for illegal activity, sources said.

As many as 14 trawlers, fish finder machines, fishing nets and other things were seized from the motorized boats.

The arrested persons have been handed over to the Forest department officials, sources said.

They will be sent to jail under provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982, sources added.

It may be mentioned here that prohibition on sea fishing is in force round the year within the marine sanctuary limits. However, sea patrolling is stepped up within the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary from November to May every year in view of the annual mass nesting season of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.

Earlier this month, decomposed carcasses of Olive Ridley turtles were spotted along the 15 km beach stretch from Nehru Bangla to Jatadhari river in Jagatsinghpur district. The turtles were found floating off the Paradip coast which is close to Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, the protected area for nesting of the rare Olive ridley turtles.

The forest officials had attributed the deaths to the illegal fishing and trespassing of mechanised boat in the restricted zones.