Odisha Fishermen Upset Over Non-Demarcation Of ‘No Fishing Zone’

Kendrapara: Like every year, a seven-month-long fishing ban in the state coastline came into force from today following a directive of the Odisha Forest Department.

The government has reportedly imposed a ban on the movement of fishing boats and trawlers in vulnerable coastal zones for the annual mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles. As estimated, thousands of traditional marine fishermen in coastal districts are likely to be affected due to the ban order, which would remain effective till May 31, 2020.

To ensure the safety of the turtles, prohibitory orders are being strictly enforced. While trawl operators have been cautioned not to venture into prohibited areas, trespassing would invite punitive measures, sources said.

However, the fishermen community in Paradip and nearby areas have raised concerns as the marine sanctuary has not been properly demarcated. Although the fishermen have welcomed the government’s move, they rued that they will have to deal with heavy losses if they go deep into the sea in small diesel boats.

Besides, they alleged that due to lack of floating buoys and with several areas yet to be demarcated as no-fishing zones, many fishermen while venturing into deep sea accidentally enter into restricted areas and face legal action.

“We support the ban orders but the government should demarcate the places where fishing is allowed and where it’s restricted so that the community does not face problems in maintaining livelihood during the restriction,” said a fisherman Tankar Venkatraman.

Tankar further alleged that while venturing near the restricted areas, the patrolling teams arrest them and even seize their boats.

A trawler owner, Saroj Pradhan alleged, “There are no floating buoys to demarcate the Olive Ridley turtle inhabited zones. Due to the non-demarcation, the coast guards and forest officials on duty arrest many fishermen from near the restricted areas, for their vested interest.”

On the other hand, Odisha Marine Fish Producer Association (OMFPA) President Srikant Parida said, “As the river mouth near Paradip has been blocked due to silting, the fishermen take the Barunei passage, which happens to be a restricted area. Subsequently, many fishing boats are seized by the fisheries and forest department officials. Though the government has ordered to demarcate the reserved areas, the markings are yet to be done by the concerned authorities.”

Meanwhile, the fishermen community and trawler owners have demanded the government to provide them diesel in subsidized rates and make alternative arrangements so that they can earn their livelihood.