Olive ridley conservation: Odisha govt clamps prohibition on sea fishing activity at 3 river mouths

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Kendrapara (Odisha), Nov 1 (PTI) To ensure the safety of olive ridley turtles during their breeding and mating season, the Odisha government on Sunday clamped a seven-month prohibition on sea fishing activity within 20 km of the coast at the river mouths of Dhamara, Devi and Rusikulya.

A blanket ban on sea-fishing remains enforced round- the-year in Gahirmatha coast, which is acclaimed as the largest habitation corridors of these endangered marine species. Besides, it has been conferred the status of marine sanctuary in view of turtles congregation.

The sole objective of annual measures, that would remain effective till May 31, is to ensure the safety of marine animals during their breeding and mating season, said forest officials, adding that the ban has been clamped in accordance with Sections 2, 7 and 4 of Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA), 1982 and provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The fishing ban has been imposed along a specified coast of the sea comprising sea turtle congregation area and their buffer zones at the river mouths of Dhamara, Devi and Rusikulya.

The prohibition of this nature has been clamped as the turtles perish in larger numbers either by getting entangled in fishing nets or hit by fishing trawler' propellers.

It will be a multi-layered patrolling exercise involving the forest, fisheries and marine police besides the coast guard personnel. To ensure effective patrolling, 61 on- shore camps and five off-shore camps have been set up. The armed police constabulary force will flank the forest and fisheries patrolling teams.

'To ensure the safety of turtles, the prohibitory orders are being strictly enforced. The trawler operators have been cautioned not to venture into prohibited water zones. Any act of trespass would invite punitive measures', said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bikash Ranjan Dash.

Around 10,666 fishermen families will be affected following the fishing ban. Therefore, to compensate for the loss of income avenues, the state government has decided to extend one-time livelihood assistance of Rs 7,500 to the affected fishermen families.

Around 7.30 lakh Olive Ridley turtles had turned up for their annual sojourn for mass nesting in the 2019-20 nesting season. The female turtles had emerged from the sea to crawl on to the serene beach, dig pits to lay millions of eggs.

The female turtles virtually invade the nesting beaches usually at the dead of the night for laying eggs, the phenomenon otherwise described as 'arribada'. After indulgence in instinctive egg-laying, the turtles leave the nesting ground to stride into the deep sea water. Hatchlings emerge from these eggs after 45-60 days. It is a rare natural phenomenon where the babies grow without their mother. PTI COR SKN RG RG