Fisherman killed in encounter in Gahirmatha turtle habitation zone

Kendrapara: A fisherman was killed in encounter by the forest personnel engaged in turtle protection drive in Gahirmatha sea waters along Kendrapara district on Sunday.

The deceased identified as Alli Khan of Dangamala village in Rajkanika and his associates were fishing using trawlers illegally in the no fishing zone. The forest officials on patrolling raided the fishing trawlers in the prohibited zone while the fishermen opened fire at the government officials. In reply, the forest personnel retaliated them killing Alli on the spot, sources said. However, forest officials escaped narrowly from the fierce attack by the illegal fishing trawlers.

The forest department was alerted on intrusion of fishing trawlers into the turtle habitation corridors and sea patrol stepped up to intercept trespassing vessels when patrolling units spotted about 15 intruding vessels illegally fishing in the prohibited zones, said forest officials.

Divisional Forest officer, Rajnagar Mangrove Forest Division, Kedar Kumar Swain said, “The crew of the patrol vessels threatened to attack the patrolling staff who were brought safely to the on-shore base camp.”

“Department officials rushed to tow the patrol vessel back to the shore.”

Odisha government, in a bid to curb high mortality of the marine species, has prohibited fishing activity within a sea ward radius of 20 km from Gahirmatha marine sanctuary from November 1 in accordance with sections 2, 7 & 4 of Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA), 1982.

Since the enforcement of fishing ban, 138 marine fishermen have been arrested and 22 craft seized for unlawful fishing activity within the jurisdiction of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, the sources said quoting figures.

The fishing prohibition would remain in force till May 31 to make the annual sojourn of Olive Ridley turtles safer and congenial.

(With PTI inputs)