Ten fishermen arrested for illegal fishing in Bhitarkanika

Kendrapara: Ten fishermen have been taken into custody by the Bhitarkanika National Park authorities in Odisha for illegal fishing activity in the core area of the Park, posing a danger to estuarine crocodiles and aquatic species.

Intensifying its vigil on human interference in crocodile habitation corridors, the Park authorities in Kendrapara district also seized two fishing vessels of the fishermen, besides nets and other fishing implements.

A patrol squad of wild officials intercepted a country boat and a mechanised vessel and arrested the ten persons who were engaged in illegal fishing activity in Kalibhanjdiha water-body of the national park on Sunday night, a senior official said.

The said water-inlet is an ideal habitat for salt-water crocodiles and other aquatic animals.

The arrested persons were all traditional inland fishermen and inhabitants of villages lying close to the national park, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya, said.

The accused persons were forwarded to court under sections 9,27,29,35 (6) of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Unlawful fishing has been posing danger to estuarine crocodiles and aquatic species in the prohibited water-body corridors of Bhitarkanika National Park.

During the past two months, the park officials have intercepted four cases of illegal fishing and arrested 28 fishermen for unauthorized entry into the park water bodies, the DFO said.

Fishing activities in habitation corridors of crocodiles are punishable offence under the Wildlife Protection Act.

“Fishing activity within the water-bodies of the wildlife sanctuary and national park is a cognizable offence.

The forest department has stepped up its vigil on any act of trespass into prohibited territories to ensure the safety of flora, fauna and the fragile eco-system of Bhitarkanika”, the DFO said.

Crocodiles get entangled in fishing nets and they perish in the process, the DFO said.

The department is sensitizing the people living along the close periphery sanctuary asking them to reduce dependence on forest and its adjoining water-bodies for livelihood stakes.

Besides fishing, collection of fuel-wood, honey, grass and leaves from the protected forest for livelihood needs is unlawful. That is why, the department has launched initiatives and comprehensive programmes to provide alternate livelihood stakes to sanctuary-side villagers.