Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Nov 1:
The Odisha Forest and Environment department today imposed a seven-month ban on fishing in the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary to provide security to the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles whose annual mating and nesting season begins in November.
“The ban on fishing has been imposed on the area covering around 20 km off the shore from November 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015 under the Odisha Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982 and Odisha Marine Fishing Rules, 1983, said DFO of Rajnagar Wildlife and Mangrove (Forest) Division Kedar Kumar Swain.
He said in order to protect the turtles and provide a congenial atmosphere for their mating and nesting, the forest staff have sought help from the Coast Guards, marine police and Fisheries department to step up surveillance in and around the sanctuary.
“To keep a close watch on the illegal entry of trawlers inside the prohibited zone, the Forest department has set up 16 onshore and two offshore camps at the sanctuary. The temporary Agarnasi camp, which was destroyed by the Hudhud cyclone, will be revived soon”, said Gahirmatha Marine Ranger Subrat Patra.
Explaining the reasons behind the no-show by the Olive Ridley turtles last year, the DFO said the endangered sea turtles, who usually arrive in lakhs at the Gahirmatha beach for mass nesting every year, might have failed to access the nesting beach due to the formation of a stretch of sandbar near the Nasi-II beach.
This apart, poor sea patrolling during the peak nesting period could have been another reason, he added.
The ban on fishing has become a major concern for over 20,000 traditional marine fishermen in Kendrapada district, who are denied fishing rights in the prohibited zones for seven months.
While supporting the ban order on fishing, president of Odisha Traditional Fish Workers’ Union (OFTWU) Narayan Haldar said the government at the same time should also take note of the loss of livelihood of thousands of traditional fishermen, who never cause any harm to these endangered creatures, and help them with adequate compensation or alternative livelihood options.