Odisha gears up for nesting season of Olive Ridley turtles

Bhubaneswar, Oct 23: With the season for mass nesting of Olive Ridley sea turtles approaching, the Odisha government has geared up to ensure safety of the endangered species.

The preparations for safe nesting of the rare marine species have been reviewed by the government officials and the departments of forest, fisheries & animal resources and marine police were directed to operate in close coordination to ensure strict enforcement of the conservation rules, a senior official of the forest department said.

"The government has decided to enforce restrictions such as ban on mechanised fishing activities in sea from November to May," he said, adding that a central monitoring unit would be set up in the office of the principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF-wildlife).

A meeting of a high-powered committee for protection and conservation of Olive Ridley turtles, under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary A P Padhi, was also held recently, a source privy to the development said.

In the meeting, the coast guard was requested to share real-time intelligence on illegal fishing with the departments, he said, adding that Dhamara, Gopalpur and Paradip port trusts were asked to provide vessels for patrolling in their respective coasts.

Further, the chief secretary had warned the departments against unnecessary harassment of traditional fishermen. The government also decided to extend its livelihood support programme to the fishermen during the ban period.

The proposal for setting up a Sea Turtle Research Centre along Gahirmatha or Rusikulya coast was also discussed in the meeting, the source said.

During 2016-17, around 9.75 lakh Olive Ridley turtles gathered to lay eggs along Odisha coast, according to PCCF (wildLife) Sandeep Tripathy.
There would be circle level monitoring mechanisms under the direct supervision of regional conservators of forests(RCCF)in Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Baripada. They would coordinate with other law enforcing agencies and involve local NGOs in the activities, the senior government official said.

Around 62 on-shore and off-shore camps with VHF communication devices,mobile phones and camping materials would be set up for the purpose.

There would also be regular communication and intelligence sharing among coast guard, patrolling ship, and various camps and marine police, he said. The industries and ports along the coast were requested to comply with the regulations.

Soon after mass nesting, the rookeries would be fenced to protect the nests and the eggs, he added. PTI

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