Kendrapara: With turtles turning up in large numbers for mass nesting, forest personnel have stepped up drive on illegal fishing and took into custody 18 sea-going fishermen for sneaking into prohibited Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.
With the latest interception, 432 fishermen have so far been arrested for acts of intrusion into the marine sanctuary to ensure the safety of Olive Ridley sea turtles, said forest officials. 59 sea-worthy vessels were also seized in the process since November 1 enforcement of sea-fishing ban.
Two sea-worthy fishing vessels engaged in unlawful fishing activity within the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary were seized by the protection squad.
The fishing vessels had trespassed into prohibited sanctuary corridors contravening the provisions of wildlife protection act, Orissa Marine fishing regulation act and mandatory rules of marine sanctuary, said Forest Range Officer, Gahirmatha Forest Range, Subrat Patra.
The traditional marine fishermen who formed the crew of the impounded vessel were from Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts. They were later forwarded to jail custody under the section-27 & 29 of the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982, said forest officials.
The operation to stop unlawful trawling to ensure the safety of Olive Ridley turtles is being jointly conducted by coast guard, forest, and police and fisheries department after the marine animals began their annual breeding season earlier on November last, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.
It should be noted here that the state government has clamped seven month log trawl fishing ban along the 20 km stretch Dhamara- Devi river mouth from 1 November in view of the ensuing mass nesting of endangered Olive Ridley marine turtles. The mute species, accorded as schedule-1 animal under wildlife protection act for its highly threatened status, get entangled in the nets for prolonged period and die of asphyxiation. The turtles also perish in large number after getting hit by the fast moving propeller of the fishing trawlers, forest personnel said.