Bhubaneswar: At least 19 people were arrested for fishing near a turtle nesting site at Gahirmatha in Odisha's Kendrapada district, an official said Tuesday.
They were caught fishing in the prohibited area of the marine sanctuary Monday, Divisional Forest Officer Kedar Kumar Swain told IANS. Two mechanised trawlers were also seized, he said.
This was the second arrest in the sanctuary after a seven month fishing ban came into effect November 1.
The state government has imposed a fishing ban along 120 km of the state's 480 km coastline to protect sea turtles, which come to the beaches for nesting during the winter season. The ban remains effective till May 31.
The Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, about 170 kms from state capital Bhubaneswar, is one of the world's largest turtle nesting sites, where about a half a million endangered Olive Ridley turtles congregate in the sea waters between October and November and nest between December and March. Turtles have already arrived for mating this season, he said.
Although the main threat to the turtles are mechanised fishing trawlers in which they get entangled, turtle mortality has been on a decline as a result of patrolling off and along the coast.
However, carcasses of about three or four Olive Ridley turtles have been spotted since November 1 this year at various places on the coast near Gahirmatha, Swain said.