Kendrapara (Odisha), Mar 25 (PTI) The Odisha Forest Department has undertaken an exercise to demarcate the Gahirmatha Wildlife Sanctuary, widely regarded as the world's largest habitat for Olive Ridley sea turtles, by installing floating buoys to ensure the safety of marine animals.
The installation work of the buoys along the boundary of the sanctuary to prevent entry of fishing trawlers, is underway and likely to be completed by March-end.
As trawl fishing is attributed to be a major cause of turtle mortality, the boundary demarcation programme was initiated, said Bikash Ranjan Dash, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Division.
The Gahirmatha Wildlife Sanctuary is regulated by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, where movement of boats and trawlers is prohibited up to 20 km towards the sea from the shore throughout the year.
Outside the sanctuary on other nesting beaches, the movement of mechanised boats is not allowed from September to March up to 5 km towards sea from the shore, under the Odisha Marine Fisheries Regulation Act (OMFRA).
The state government had in 1997 conferred it marine sanctuary status in recognition of ecological significance and diverse floral and faunal resources.
In order to ensure the turtles' safety, sea patrol is being undertaken and 35 trawlers, which had sneaked into the marine sanctuary for sea fishing, were seized and around 200 crew were arrested this nesting season, Dash said.
This year, over 3 lakh turtles have crawled onto the Nasi-2 beach of Gahirmatha to lay eggs.
An Olive Ridley turtle usually lays about 120 to 150 eggs from which hatchlings emerge after 45 to 50 days. PTI AAM RBT RBT