The state government has imposed a seven-month-long fishing ban to save Olive Ridley sea turtles. As the breeding season of Olive Ridley is near, sea fishing has been prohibited within 20 km of the coast at mouths of Dhamara, Devi and Rusikulya rivers.

The ban has been imposed in accordance with Sections 2, 7 and 4 of Odisha Marine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA), 1982 and provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The ban which has come into force from November 1, will remain effective till May 31, 2021.

Motorboats, trawlers and mechanised fishing boats will not be permitted. However, there is no such prohibition on traditional fishing. 10,666 fishermen families whose livelihood will be affected by this ban will be given a monthly incentive of Rs 7,500 each.

“To ensure the safety of turtles, the prohibitory orders are being strictly enforced. The trawler operators have been cautioned not to venture into prohibited water zones. Any act of trespass would invite punitive measures”, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bikash Ranjan Dash.

The ban will be multi-layered patrolling exercise with the active participation of forest, fisheries, marine police and the coast guard personnel. The government plans to set up 66 patrolling camps, including five off-shore camps to keep a check on those violating the ban.

Olive Ridley sea turtles arrive at Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapara, Devi river mouth in Puri and Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district every winter for mass nesting. After mating, they lay eggs in march followed by hatching in May.

On a related note, in the 2019-20 nesting season, around 7.30 lakh Olive Ridley turtles had turned up for breeding and mating.