| File picture of Olive Ridley turtles at Gahirmatha |
Kendrapara, Feb. 6: A patrol team today arrested 25 fishermen and seized two vessels for unlawful fishing activities along the Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary.
Patrolling in the sanctuary has been stepped up because the annual “arribada” (mass-nesting of Olive Ridley turtles) season has begun and there are many reports of the turtles dying either after getting entangled in mono-filament fishing nets in the deep sea or by being hit by the propellers of the fishing trawls.
Since a ban was imposed on trawling and fishing from last November 1, 52 deep-sea trawls and 129 trespassers have been taken into custody for illegally entering into the premises of the sanctuary.
“The joint patrol squad, comprising forest, coast guards and fisheries personnel, intercepted two deep-sea fishing vessels and took 25 fishermen into custody along the turtle concentration water zones off the prohibited Gahirmatha coast,” said Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, divisional forest officer, Rajnagar mangrove (wildlife) forest division.
Fishing equipment, walkie-talkies, and navigational tools were also seized from their possession, he said.
Fishing and trawling operations along the 20-km stretch of Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary is presently banned. The government has imposed a ban on fishing activity to ensure the safety of the Olive Ridley turtles, who make their annual rendezvous in this coast during this part of the year for mass nesting.
“The arrest and seizure was made in accordance with Sections 2, 5, 7 of the Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982, and under various provisions of Sections 27 and 29 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” said Mahapatra.