7-month fishing ban to protect Olive Ridley turtles in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has decided to impose a ban on fishing within 20 km of certain coastal areas from November 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022 to protect the nests of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles, an official said on Tuesday.

A detailed action plan was drawn up at the meeting of the state’s high-level committee for the conservation of Olive Ridley turtles.

Olive Ridley sea turtles come to Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapara district, Devi river mouth in Puri district and Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district to lay eggs every year.

In view of this, the use of motor boats, trawlers and mechanized fishing boats will be prohibited within 20 km of the sea turtle collection area and their buffer zones in the Damara, Devi and Rushikulya River estuaries.

A central monitoring unit will be set up in the office of the Chief Wildlife Warden and extensive awareness activities will be undertaken for the purpose, the official said.

A total of 66 patrolling camps, including 61 camps on land, will operate round the clock. Armed police will be deployed for patrolling and enforcement activities.

Each camp will be provided with VHF communication devices, mobile phones and necessary camping materials.

Additional Chief Secretary, Environment and Forests, said four wildlife divisions – Bhadrak, Rajnagar, Puri and Berhampur – are on alert for conservation operations this year.

These units are equipped with 5 high-speed boats along with 13 trawlers and auxiliary boats to curb illegal activities at sea, she said.

PCCF Wildlife informed that last year around 3.5 lakh turtles laid their eggs on the shore of Gahirmata. At least 38 trawlers were detained and 202 people were arrested. A mass nesting took place at Gahirmatha between March 10 and March 24, he said.

Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Secretary said a mobile application has been developed for the fishermen and ground level officials and the fisherman can see the no-fishing zone in the application itself. They will also receive a warning message when they enter the no-fishing zone, he said.

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