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Olive Ridley turtles found dead off Orissa coast

Bhubaneswar: Illegal fishing using mechanized trawlers off Astarang coast is posing a serious threat to the endangered Olive Ridley turtles visiting the state every year for mass nesting.

While laws under Wildlife Protection Act are in place to ensure the safety of these endangered species, some fishermen seem to take advantage of lax sea patrolling and surveillance as huge number of Olive Ridley turtles have perished due to alleged illegal fishing using mechanized trawlers.

The turtles arrive here for mass nesting at the 14-km-long Astarang coast ranging from Devi river mouth to Keluni river mouth.

Hundreds of dead turtles were found lying on the coastline who travel more than 40, 000 km from Costa Rica. The arrival of turtles starts from November to May every year. The carcasses were seen nibbled by stray dogs along the coastline. Besides this, traces of dead turtles being buried were also found.

Though trawling within 20 km radius from the coast is prohibited, the presence of dead turtles along the coast suggests blatant violation of laws.  

“The turtles come here in large number. But they get hit by the trawlers that sail for fishing at just half kilometer off the coast while the rule is to sail fishing is 20 km deep into the sea,” Damodar Biswal a resident of Astarang said.

Strict vigil has been maintained to keep track of illegal movement of trawlers, Puri DFO said.

“Till now we have seized three trawlers. We are closely monitoring the movement of others. We are also taking the help of forces to stop the death of the turtles,” B.K. Behera D.F.O Puri said.

Besides the Devi river mouth and Keluni river mouth, other famous rookeries in Orissa coast are identified at Gahiramatha beach and Rushikulya river mouth where Olive Ridley turtles arrive for mating.

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