Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Tuesday banned fishing along its coast to protect and conserve the endangered Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, who arrive every year during winters for mass nesting in Rushikulya river mouth and Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.
The ban will be in force from November 1 to May 31 next year.
The restriction has been imposed as per Odisha Marine Fishing Act (OMFA) 1982 and Odisha Marine Fishing Rules, 1983.
Trawlers and fishermen have been directed not to fish within 20 km off the coastline in the turtle nesting sites.
DFO of Rajnagar mangrove (forest) and wildlife division Bimal Prasanna Acharya said Bhitarkanika forest personnel have sought help from the Coast Guard, the Marine police and the fisheries department to step up surveillance at Gahirmatha, considered the world’s largest rookery of Olive Ridley turtles.
Forest officials have also set up two off shore camps at Babubali and Agarnasi, while 14 onshore camps have been set up under Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary from Dhamra to Devi river mouth to restrict illegal entry of trawlers to the sanctuary area.
Every year, the sea turtles arrive in lakhs to the beaches of Gahirmatha for mass nesting. However, last time only 51,959 turtles came to Nasi-II beach for laying eggs between March 16 and 21, said Gahirmatha ranger Subrata Kumar Petra.
More than 20,000 marine fishermen of seaside villages of Rajnagar and Mahakalapara blocks are likely to be affected by the ban on fishing, said Narayan Haldar, a fishermen leader.
Many fishermen have started migrating to other parts of state in search of livelihood, he added.