Seven-month ban on fishing in Gahirmatha sanctuary

Kendrapara: Odisha government has clamped a seven-month ban on fishing activity along the 20 km stretch of Dhamra-Hukitola river mouth in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary from today in view of the commencement of mass nesting of Olive Ridley sea turtles.

According to Forest department officials, an estimated 26,000 traditional marine fishermen in coastal Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts would be affected by the ban which would remain in force from today till May 31.

The ban has been clamped in accordance with Sections 2, 7 and 4 of Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA), 1982 and provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

“The prohibitory orders are strictly enforced for the safety of the turtles. Trawl operators have been cautioned not to venture into prohibited water zone. Any act of trespass will invite punitive action,” Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Kedar Kumar Swain said.

Over one hundred trawls and vessels were seized and 150 crews were arrested during the ban clamped last time as vessels defied the OMFRA provisions and indulged in fishing along the prohibited water zones, they said.

In view of the drop in marine fish catch and subsequent loss of avocation during the ban period, fishermen have been demanding that temporary permits be provided by government for fishing activity once a week.

The breeding turtles get killed by the trawlers which use mono-filament nets that entangles the turtles, said Tushar Sardar, the district president of Traditional Marine Fishermen’s union said and claimed that the ‘kani’ or net used by traditional fishermen did not harm the Olive Ridley Turtles.