Altogether 20 marine fishermen were arrested on the charge of entering turtles' habitat, a prohibited zone, near Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Kendrapara district, official sources said here today.
Four sea fishing vessels, carrying the fishermen from Balasore and Paradip areas, were also seized yesterday.
Sea patrolling has been stepped up in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary water territory in view of the coming mass nesting season of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.
The operation to stop unlawful trawling to ensure safety of Olive Ridley Turtles is being jointly conducted by the Coast Guard, forest, and police and fisheries departments during the turtles' breeding season, Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, DFO, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division, said.
The sighting of hundreds of carcasses of marine animals on the beach at Paradip last week had put the forest departments in a spot of bother.
The emergence of breeding Olive Ridley Turtles from sea water to Gahirmatha's beaches for 'arribada', a Spanish term meaning mass egg laying by marine turtle, is expected to take place within next couple of months.
The Odisha government has clamped ban on trawl fishing along the 20 km stretch Gahirmatha marine sanctuary from November one in view of the mass nesting the turtles.
Rise in mortality rate of mating turtles along coastal water surface led to clamping of prohibition as gill nets used by trawls and their fast moving propellers were killing the turtles, the sources said.