36 fishermen taken into custody for unlawful fishing activity

Kendrapra: Stepping up its protection drive ahead of mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles, forest personnel have taken into custody 36 fishermen in separate mid-sea interceptions along Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Odisha in the past four days, officials said.

The trawls used by the intruders for fishing along the prohibited breeding zones of the endangered marine animals were seized by the patrolling unit engaged by Forest Department for conservation of the turtles, forest officials said.

The arrested fishermen are residents of Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara district, they said.

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.

They were sent to jail custody yesterday under sections 27 and 29 of the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982, officials added.

Sea patrolling has been stepped up within Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in view of the annual mass nesting season of the endangered turtles and the state government has clamped a fishing ban along the 20 km stretch from November 1, forest officials said.

The imposition of prohibition was in accordance with sections 2,3,4 of Orissa Maine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA).

Rise in mortality rate of mating turtles along the coastal water surface led to the clamping of the prohibition as the gill nets used by the trawls prove to be the cause of death for breeding turtles.

The mute species, accorded as Schedule 1 animal under Wildlife Protection Act for its highly threatened status, get entangled in the nets for and die of asphyxiation. The turtles also perish in large number after getting hit by the fast moving propeller of the fishing trawlers, forest officials added.