Kendrapara, Nov 30 (LocalWire): As many as 240 fishermen have been arrested and around 40 fishing boats seized by forest officials since Nov 1 within the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in Kendrapara district for illegally fishing in the turtle zone.
The arrest has led to conflict between forest officials and fishermen with the latter launching an agitation to protect their fishing rights.
” I was released from the jail but the forest officials are yet to hand over my boat to me. I had incurred loan amount of Rs. two lakh from a bank last year to purchase the boat. I have been running from pillar to post to get back my boat,” said fisherman Saroj.
Around 30,000 marine fishermen are in a dilemma with the government imposing a seven-month fishing ban from Nov 1 to May 31 on the sea, 20 km off the coast, within the marine sanctuary, said Odisha Masyajibi Forum president Narayan Haldar.
Marine sanctuary forest range officer Srirampada Arabinda Mishra said: “All the arrested fishermen had been actively fishing in prohibited areas designated only for the rookery of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.”
“The purpose of our operations is to combat illegal fishing activities within the marine sanctuary and to protect the sea turtles,” he added.
The forest department has recently demarcated the Gahiramatha Marine Sanctuary, known as the world’s largest rookery of the sea turtles by putting many floated buoys in the sea covering an area of 20 kilometers from the coast and 68 kilometer long coastline.