Kendrapara, Oct 30 (LocalWire): The forest department has recently chalked out plans to impose a seven-month-long fishing ban from 1 November to 31May to protect the Olive Ridley sea turtles in Gahiramatha marine sanctuary.
‘Gahiramatha marine sanctuary is a prime feeding area for sea turtles.
Trawlers and boatmen have been directed not to fish within 20 kilometers from the coastline covering 68 kilometers from Hukitola to Dhamara.
Forest officials have already deployed forest guards to arrest fishermen who dare to enter the marine sanctuary areas,’ said Debashis Bhoi, the forest range officer of Gahiramatha marine sanctuary.
‘Turtles arrive in November to mate at Gahirmatha, known as the world’s largest rookery of sea turtles.
Later the females lay eggs in March. We have already established 16 turtle protection camps including three offshore camps at Agaranashi, Barunei and Babubali islands to protect the turtles in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.
Marine police stations at Kharinashi and Paradip and coast guards will help the forest officials to prevent illegal fishing this year,’ added the forest officer.
The forest department deployed two interceptor boats to protect the sea turtles by preventing fishing vessels to enter the marine sanctuary.
Both the boats were procured from Mumbai at a cost of Rs three crores each three years back.
‘Due to the fishing ban imposed by the authorities, around 4.70 lakh turtles laid eggs from 26 February to 5 March in the Gahiramatha marine sanctuary, added the forest officer.
During the previous fishing ban, forest officials seized 102 fishing boats and trawlers and arrested at least 832 fishermen, added the forest officer.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and its latest amendments in 2006 provide umbrella legislation and all the sea turtle species have been given legal protection under the provisions of this Act.
Braving all odds, these marine creatures continue their life cycle in Gahiramatha, said Hemant Rout the secretary of Gahirmatha Marine Turtle and Mangrove Conservation Society.