Orissa bans fishing near turtle nesting sites

November 1st, 2010 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Nov 1 (IANS) Orissa Monday imposed a seven-month fishing ban along 120 km of the state’s 480 km coastline to protect tens of thousands of Olive Ridley turtles, which coming to the beaches for mass nesting every winter.

The state government has directed the trawlers and boatmen not to carry out any fishing activity within 20 km of the coast during the ban, which will be effective till May 31, a senior official of the state wildlife department told IANS.

More than half a million Olive Ridley turtles arrive and congregate in the shallow coastal waters of Orissa in October-November and nest between December and March. Most hatchlings emerge by May.

The state has three nesting sites. These are the Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapada district, the Devi river mouth in Puri district and Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district.

The Gahirmatha turtle sanctuary is one of the world’s largest turtle nesting sites, where most turtles nest every year.

“The turtles are set to congregate in shallow coastal waters any time now. The ban has been imposed so that no turtle gets killed,” he said.

Like tigers and elephants, Olive Ridley turtles are protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Trapping, killing or selling of the species could result in a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment.

Officials say turtle mortality has come down over the past years due to various conservation measures.

Biswajit Mohanty, coordinator of the turtle conservation group Operation Kachhapa, however, said the measures taken to protect the turtles were not enough.

At least 1.5 lakh turtles have been killed, mostly by mechanised fishing trawlers and gill netters in the past 15 years, he told IANS. “The government needs to do more to protect them,” he said.

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