Bhubaneswar, Nov 3 - At least six fishermen were arrested for fishing near a turtle…
Bhubaneswar, Nov 1 – The Odisha government Saturday imposed a seven-month fishing ban along its coast to protect endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles which come to the state beaches for mass nesting every winter, an official said.
The ban is imposed along 120 km of the state’s 480 km coastline to protect the turtles who are set to congregate in shallow waters, senior forest officer Kedar Kumar Swain told IANS.
No fishing activities would be allowed within 20 km of the coast near the nesting sites. The ban will be in effect till May 31, he said.
Over half a million Olive Ridley turtles arrive and congregate in the shallow coastal water of the Bay of Bengal in November and climb ashore for nesting between December and March. Most hatchlings emerge by May.
The state has three nesting sites – Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapada district, Devi river mouth in Puri district and Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district.
The Gahirmatha turtle sanctuary is one of the world’s largest turtle nesting sites.
However, there was no mass nesting last year in Gahirmatha and Devi river mouth probably due to the damage caused by cyclone Phailin that ripped through the coast in October and caused extensive destruction.
There was sporadic nesting at these two sites as only a small number of turtles had turned up, he said.
In Rushikulya, however, around 30,000 turtles had nested on the beach, he said.
Olive Ridley turtles are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Trapping, killing or selling them could attract a maximum seven-year prison sentence.
The turtle mortality rate has come down over the past few years due to various conservation measures, the official said.
Swain said patrolling by nearly two hundred officials including coast guard, forest, marine police and fishery department has been intensified along the coast as also offshore.