Kendrapada, India — With the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles mating and breeding season fast approaching, fishing activities inside the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and 20 kms off the shore has been banned from November 1 to May 31 next.
DFO of Rajnagar Mangrove forest (wildlife) Division Manoj Kumar Mohapatra said the ban would be enforced under the Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982 and Orissa Marine Fishing Rules, 1983 to protect the endangered Olive Ridley Sea turtles.
Gahirmatha marine sanctuary is considered as the world's largest rookery of the Olive Ridley turtles.
Meanwhile,the Bhitarkanika Forest personnel had sought the help from Coast guards, Marine police and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) personnel to step up surveillance in and around the inner and outer wheeler island during the oncoming nesting season of the Olive Ridleys.
The endangered sea turtles, protected under the migratory species convention and convention of international trade on wildlife flora and fauna, arrive in lakhs to the beaches of Gahirmatha Marine sanctuary for mass nesting every year.
The forest department sources said they would soon set up onshore and offshore camps under Gahirmatha marine sanctuary and keep a watch on the illegal entry of trawlers to the sanctuary during the ban period to protect the olive Ridley sea turtles during the mass nesting.
The ban would deprive nearly 10,000 marine fishermen of coastal Mahakalapada block of Kendrapada district, who mostly eke out their living by fishing in the Bay of Bengal, Orissa Traditional Fish Worker's union President Narayan Haldar said.
It was the big trawlers which illegally ventured into the prohibited zone to catch fish and in the process killed the Olive Ridleys who were dragged with the fishing nets for several kilometers resulting in the deaths.