Greenpeace calls for Orissa’s effective marine resources management

November 23rd, 2008 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Nov 23 (IANS) International environment activists Greenpeace Sunday suggested here several measures for effective management of Orissa’s marine resources.The voluntary organisation, releasing an approach paper titled “Turning Seas of Trouble into Seas of Plenty”, highlighted the possibility of this turtle season being a season of change for Orissa’s fishing community and the Olive Ridley turtles if the state government implemented its suggestions.

It discusses the decline in fish catch and the potential threat to the 450,000-strong fisher population of the state.

It also outlines the solution-sustainable fisheries management - which will safeguard the livelihoods of the traditional fishing population, while by default reducing turtle mortalities significantly.

“There is an inherent relationship between poor fisheries and marine management and the high turtle death toll every year,” said Sanjiv Gopal, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace.

“The solution - sustainable management of marine resources - is the first step towards tackling both turtle mortalities and falling fish catches in the near shore waters,” he said.

Orissa is known the world over as the biggest nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles. It has three mass nesting sites - Nasi Islands in Kendrapada district, mouth of Devi river in Puri district and mouth of Rushikulya river in Ganjam district.

Olive Ridley turtles are endangered and protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Trapping or killing an Olive Ridley turtle can lead to imprisonment for seven years.

The last decade and a half has seen between 10,000 to 15,000 dead Olive Ridley sea turtles washed ashore every year along the coast of the state, largely victims of illegal trawling in near shore waters.

Such trawling, though illegal, has expanded manifold over the last decade, jeopardising the livelihood security of the traditional fishing population who primarily relies on these waters for its livelihood.

“To fulfill its conservation mandate, the state forest department needs to commit to progressively reducing the annual turtle mortality over the next five seasons. This would enable the government’s turtle protection efforts to be evaluated objectively,” Gopal said.

“We are happy that the department has already taken a step in the right direction by committing to a transparent process of counting turtle mortalities this year, together with independent observers.” said Gopal.

“Such a commitment would mean that the turtle mortality for the upcoming season would be reduced by 35 per cent and the goal at the end of five years would see mortalities reduced from the current average of 12,500 to around 2400,” he said.

Welcoming the recent deployment of two new patrol boats by the Fisheries Department, Gopal said, “Improved patrolling and the consistent presence of authorities at sea will curtail illegal trawling.”

“We support this initiative and are open to sharing the responsibility of patrolling by pooling our efforts with the Government,” he said.

The position paper also reminds the state of its duty towards allocating sufficient resources to tackle the fishery crisis, both by providing patrolling and enforcement resources, as well as compensation and alternative means of livelihood for traditional fishermen affected by fishing restrictions.

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