Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Mar 3:
As many as six fishermen were today arrested for fishing near a turtle nesting in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Odisha’s Kendrapara district.
The Forest officials intercepted these fisher folks near Babuballi Island which is considered a preferred nesting site of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.
The seaworthy vessel had ventured into prohibited sanctuary corridors of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles contravening the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act and rules of the marine sanctuary, a forest official said.
The arrested crew of the fishing vessel was later remanded to judicial custody under section-27 and 29 of the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Odisha Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982, sources said.
The state government has banned fishing in the area and intensified sea patrolling in view of the safety of the Olive Ridley turtles.
Notably, the Olive Ridley turtles, protected under Schedule 1 of wildlife Protection Act, 1972, die after being trapped and entangled in the nets of mechanized fishing during the mating season.
It may be mentioned that as many as 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 state has imposed a fishing ban along 120 km of the state’s 480 km coastline to protect sea turtles, which come to the beaches for nesting during winter.
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.