Forest officials start sea patrolling in Ganjam as fishing ban kicks in
Berhampur (Odisha), Nov 2 (PTI) Forest officials have started patrolling the sea off the Ganjam coast in Odisha as a seven-month ban on fishing came into effect to protect and conserve the endangered olive ridley sea turtles.
Berhampur Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (RCCF) P K Mishra said they had four vessels, including three speed boats, for patrolling in the sea.
"We have started patrolling from Monday to crackdown the fishing trawlers and mechanised boats in no-fishing zones," Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Amlan Nayak said.
The state government has imposed a seven-month-long prohibition on fishing activities within 20 km of the coast at the river mouths of Dhamara, Devi and Rusikulya from Monday, marking the beginning of the mass nesting season of the turtles.
The prohibition is clamped every year as turtles perish in larger numbers either by getting entangled in fishing nets or hit by fishing trawlers' propellers.
The olive ridley turtles generally visit the sea during November and start their mating in December and January before the mass nesting, which takes place in the last week of February and the first or second week of March.
The olive ridleys -- of the species of the sea turtle under the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature -- lay eggs at the Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapara district, the Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district and the Devi river mouth in Puri district.
The DFO said they had also decided to set up at least 11 camps with deployment of the forest staff to provide safety to the sea turtles.
Three control rooms in the five-km stretch of the coast, where mass nesting takes place, have been opened, including one near the river mouth on Monday.
The forest officials have also decided to make a fence around the five-km stretch from Gokharakuda to Podampeta to facilitate mass nesting.
"We have already cleaned the beach by removing the debris in the first phase," Nayak said.
They have also decided to create awareness among the Fisherfolk in the villages located near the river mouth.
To compensate for the loss of income, the state government has decided to extend one-time livelihood assistance of Rs 7,500 to the affected families. In Ganjam, as many as 3,638 families of nine villages will benefit from the compensation.
During 'arribada' (arrival by sea in Spanish), female turtles reach beaches usually at the dead of the night for laying eggs. After that, they return to the sea.
An olive ridley usually lays about 120-150 eggs and the hatchlings, after emerging from these eggs in a span of 45 to 60 days, travel to the sea. They grow up without their mothers.
Reports suggest that out of every 1,000 hatchlings that enter the sea, only one manages to reach adulthood, according to Odisha Tourism.