Odisha Enforces Annual Fishing Ban to Protect Olive Ridley Turtles

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Kendrapara, Odisha: In a dedicated effort to protect the fragile ecosystem of Olive Ridley turtles, the Odisha government has implemented a seven-month ban on sea fishing activities within a 20-kilometer radius of the mouths of rivers Dhamara, Devi, and Rusikulya. This vital conservation measure, which comes into effect from November 1, aims to safeguard these endangered marine animals during their critical mating and breeding season.

The annual prohibition, enforced in accordance with the Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA) of 1982 and the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, is essential to prevent accidental harm to Olive Ridley turtles. These remarkable creatures often fall victim to fishing nets or get injured by fishing trawler propellers.

A multi-layered patrolling exercise will be conducted during the prohibition period, involving the forest, fisheries, and marine police, as well as Coast Guard personnel. To enhance the effectiveness of these patrols, 61 on-shore camps and five off-shore camps have been set up across the state’s four wildlife divisions: Bhadrak, Rajnagar, Puri, and Berhampur. Armed police constabulary forces will support the forest and fisheries patrolling teams. Additionally, five high-speed boats, 13 trawlers, and support vessels have been deployed to intercept illegal marine fishing activities in the restricted zones.

While this ban is crucial for the conservation of Olive Ridley turtles, it does have economic repercussions. More than 10,600 fishing families will be impacted by the temporary prohibition. In recognition of their financial losses, the state government has decided to provide one-time livelihood assistance of Rs 15,500 to each affected fishing family.

Gahirmatha coast, acclaimed as the largest habitation corridor for Olive Ridley turtles, observes a year-round blanket ban on sea fishing. It has been designated as a marine sanctuary to protect the turtles and their congregation.

The Olive Ridley turtles, recognizable by their distinctive olive-colored shells, make their way to the nesting beaches, often under the cover of darkness, to lay their eggs—a phenomenon known as ‘Arribada.’ After laying their eggs, the turtles return to the deep sea. Approximately 45 to 60 days later, hatchlings emerge from their nests. This unique natural process sees the baby turtles grow independently before embarking on their journey into the sea.

The Odisha government’s unwavering commitment to protecting its diverse natural heritage and the Olive Ridley turtles is a testament to its dedication to environmental sustainability and wildlife conservation. This conservation initiative serves as a model for coexistence between humans and the natural world, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding our planet’s rich biodiversity.

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