22 held for unlawful fishing activity in Odisha's marine sanctuary

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Kendrapara (Odisha), Feb 5 (PTI) At least 22 fishermen have been arrested on the charge of carrying out unlawful activity in the turtle-concentration zones of Odisha's Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, a forest department official here said on Friday.

Two trawlers used by the intruders for fishing along the prohibited sanctuary area were seized by the department's patrol teams, he said.

The intruders, who were arrested on Thursday, are residents of Jagatsinghpur district. They were remanded in judicial custody earlier in the day, the official said.

The fishermen had entered the prohibited zone, contravening the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act and mandatory rules of the sanctuary, he explained.

With the latest interception, over 100 fishermen have been arrested and 22 vessels seized since November for acts of intrusion into the marine sanctuary -- which is the breeding ground of highly endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

The turtles, on several occasions, get hit by the fast-moving propeller of the trawlers or die of asphyxiation after getting entangled in the fishing nets.

Fishing prohibition remains enforced round the year in Gahirmatha as it has been accorded the status of a marine sanctuary.

The state government has, however, also clamped a seven-month-long fishing ban along the 20 km-stretch Dhamara- Devi river mouth near the sanctuary from November 1, to ensure safety of the turtles during the nesting period. PTI COR AAM RMS RMS