Greenpeace opposes ports near turtle nesting sites

April 15th, 2010 - 10:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, April 15 (IANS) Greenpeace Thursday opposed the establishment of new ports or expansion of existing ones near turtle nesting sites in Orissa saying that it will affect the fishing industry and marine biodiversity.
Citing examples of the recent fuel oil leak from an Indian ship nearly two km off Orissa’s coast near Gopalpur port Monday evening, and oil leakage from a vessel Sep 9 last year near Paradip port, Greenpeace said it is time the government woke up.

“The experience shows that the threats posed by ports to surrounding areas are many, can occur over long time frames and are difficult to predict or control,” Ashish Fernandes, an ocean campaigner with Greenpeace, told IANS.

The state and central government need to wake up and ensure that there are no new ports or expansion of existing ports within 25 km of the mass nesting beaches of turtles in Gahirmatha, Devi and Rushikulya, he said.

“Failure to do so will mean the gradual but permanent disappearance of these amazing creatures from the state’s shores,” he said.

Oil spilled from the ship at Gopalpur has contaminated the Olive Ridley turtle nesting beaches at Rushikulya and the offshore waters, he said.

The impact on both adult sea turtles in the area as well as the thousands of nests still incubating are unknown but potentially disastrous, while local fisheries have already been impacted, he said.

“Mop up operations are underway by coast guards and Gopalpur port authorities, but we fear much damage might already have been done,” he said.

“Lakhs of hatchlings are due to emerge from their nests within a few weeks, and toxins in their environment could have serious impacts on them, particularly at a delicate stage in their life cycle,” he said.

“Such instances are set to increase with the massive port expansion planned near the state’s marine turtle habitats,” he said.

There are over 10 ports now proposed along Orissa’s coast, and many of these are in eco-critical areas.

“This would mean that there will be ports in the vicinity of all the current marine turtle congregation and nesting areas,” he said.

“This is a clear warning of things to come,” said Fernandes.

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