Paradip, Feb. 11: Trawler operators engaged in fishing off the coast of the state have stepped up their demand for bringing down the duration of the seven-month embargo on fishing activities in the sea in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.
These prohibitory orders have adversely hit most of the fishermen as fishing within the limits of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary is their livelihood. The Odisha Marine Fish Producers’ Association (OMFPA) says that unless remedial measures are taken, the ban might spell disaster for the fishing sector.
“To revive the sector, the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary limits should be redrawn. The sanctuary extends from Dhamra to Rushikulya river mouth about 20km from the coastline. Prohibition on fishing has severely impeded fishing activity,” said OMFPA general secretary Sumanta Biswal.The seven-month (November1 to May 31) ban on fishing in the sea is to ensure the safety of Olive Ridley turtles.
“We are not opposed to turtle protection. But the ban period is too long and detrimental to the interests of those who survive on fishing in the sea. For sustainable growth of the marine sector, the prohibition period should be brought down to four months. The fishing prohibition needs to begin from February 1, when turtles usually arrive for mass nesting,” said Biswal.
The turtles are often spotted 10km off the coastline. Thus, the demarcation of the sanctuary needs to be scaled down, he said.
“The marine fishing sector is in bad shape with a sharp decline in the annual yield. Livelihood stakes of over 5 lakh people employed either directly or indirectly in the trawler sector are at stake. The government’s step-motherly policies will sound the death knell for marine fishing sector along the Odisha coast,” said OMFPA president Kameswar Narayan Praharaj.
About 1,600 medium-size vessels operate along the state coast for fishing in the sea.