Fishing banned in Gahirmatha sanctuary for turtle nesting – With the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles mating and breeding season approaching fast, the Bhitarkanika forest officials today banned fishing by mechanised trawlers inside the Gahirmatha Sanctuary from November 1 to May 31 next year.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Rajnagar Mangrove and Wildlife Forest Division AK Jena said the ban on fishing inside the sanctuary area will be enforced under the Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act,1982 and Orissa Marine Fishing Rules,1983 .
Under the Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA), 5 km of seaward belt in offshore area from high tide line is exclusively reserved for traditional crafts and fishing by mechanised vessels is prohibited.
The forest officials have sought the help of the Coast Guard and the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) to protect the endangered Olive Ridley Sea turtles who come in lakhs at Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, the world’s largest rookery, for mass nesting.
The DRDO personnel were approached to step up surveillance and mask the defence lighting system in and around the inner and outer Wheeler Island during the oncoming nesting season of Olive Ridleys.
Official sources said as many as 12 onshore and three offshore camps would be established inside the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary to protect the sea turtles and watch the illegal entry of trawlers to the sanctuary during the ban period.
Last year over three lakhs Olive Ridley came to Gahirmatha to lay eggs on the sandy beachesBesides Gahirmatha, the turtles also arrive every year at Rushikulya and Devi river mouths in large numbers for mass nesting