Bhubaneswar, Nov 1:

The Odisha government banned fishing along its coast for the next seven months to protect and conserve the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles, said an official on Tuesday.

Olive ridley turtle

The ban will be in force from November 1 to May 31 next year.

Olive Ridley turtles arrive every year during winter for mass nesting along the Odisha sea coast. The state has three nesting sites — Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapada district, Devi river mouth in Puri district, and Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district.

The restriction has been imposed as per Odisha Marine Fishing Act (OMFA), 1982, and Odisha Marine Fishing Rules, 1983.

“Trawlers and fishermen have been directed not to fish within 20 km off the coastline in the turtle nesting sites. Forest guards have been deployed to arrest fishermen who enter the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary during the ban period,” said Subrat Patra, Forest Range Officer of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.

Rajnagar mangrove (wildlife) forest divisional officer Bimal Prasanna Acharya said Bhitarkanika forest personnel have sought help from the Coast Guard, the Marine police and the fisheries department to step up surveillance at Gahirmatha sanctuary.

Turtles usually arrive in November for mating in the sea water. Later, the females lay eggs in March. (IANS)