The Indian Coast Guard has engaged an aircraft in service for ‘Operation Oliva’, the coastal monitoring as part of its annual mission to ensure the safe mid-sea sojourn of breeding Odisha’s Olive Ridley sea turtles.
The turtle protection programme is in full swing, in a joint venture with the forest department, to keep vigil on illegal fishing around the turtle concentration zone, a Coast Guard official said.
A proactive plan has been prepared to ensure the conversation of the marine animals. “With round-the-clock vigil, the coast guard has been able to provide adequate protection to the endangered species,” an official said.
“The CG aircraft will keep a tab on illegal fishing in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, Dhamra, Devi and Rushikulya river mouths,” he added.
It has also organised interactive sessions with fishermen communities to make them aware of the pros and cons of the legal embargo on fishing during olive ridleys' nesting season.
“The patrol exercise for surveillance on trespassing sea-worthy trawlers is on as turtles perish in large numbers after getting hit on trawl propellers. Besides breeding animals get entangled in fishing nets and are asphyxiated to death,” the official said.
“The coast guard is always on alert to check trespassing of vessels. The patrol vessels engaged by the forest and fisheries department often seek CG ship assistance in the event of emergencies. The operation to save turtles is being carried on in a coordinated manner,” he said.
“We are always ready to help the forest and fisheries department for the safety of these delicate marine species,” the CG official added.
He informed that this operation will stay in force until the turtles lay eggs on nesting beaches.
There is an increase in the awareness level among the fishermen communities. As a result, unlawful sea fishing activity has dropped down considerably this time since the enforcement of prohibition on sea fishing from November 1 within the 20 km radius of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary and river mouths of Odisha.
Since November 1 when the turtle protection patrolling was undertaken, the forest department has arrested more than 70 sea-going fishermen and eight sea-worthy trawlers were seized on the charge of infringement of provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982, said forest officials.