Fishing ban in Gahirmatha, fishermen resent

Orissa government on Tuesday clamped a seven-month ban on fishing along the 20-km stretch of Dhamra-Barunei mouth within Gahirmatha marine sanctuary

Kendrapara: Orissa government on Tuesday clamped a seven-month-long ban on fishing activity along
the 20-km stretch of Dhamra-Barunei mouth within Gahirmatha
marine sanctuary in view of the commencement of mass nesting
of Olive Ridley sea turtles, official sources said here.

An estimated 26,000 traditional marine fishermen in
coastal Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts likely to be
affected by prohibitive measures have voiced their protests.

The ban was clamped in accordance with provisions of
Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA), 1982 and
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Assistant Director of Fisheries
(marine) Rabi Narayan Pattnaik said.

"To ensure safety of turtles, prohibitive orders are
being strictly enforced. Trawl operators have been asked not
to venture into prohibited water zone. Any violation would
invite punitive action," said Manoj Mahapatra, Divisional
Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division.

Nearly 100 trawls and vessels were seized and their
crew arrested during the ban last time.

In view of drop in marine fish catch and subsequent
loss of avocation, the fishermen have been demanding temporary
permits for fishing activity on once-a-week basis.

"To make up loss of livelihood sources, the World Bank
funded Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme (ICZMP)
has taken up alternate livelihood stake projects for affected
traditional marine fishermen. The programme has got underway.

"We have planned to cover all fishermen families under
the alternate livelihood scheme to compensate the community’s
monetary loss due to ban," Patnaik said.

The conservation of endangered Olive Ridleys’ is of
paramount importance but it should not be at the cost of the
livelihood of thousands of fishermen, who cause no harm to
these species, district wing president of Traditional Marine
Fishermen`s Union Tushar Sardar said.

Most traditional fishermen fish in the 5-km stretch
with their indigenous `kani` or net which do not harm turtles.
The breeding turtles get killed by the trawlers, which use
mono-filament nets that lead to entangling of the turtles,
Sardar claimed.

The prohibition in past years has hit the marine fish
production and also the economy of the region which is largely
regulated by sea fishing sector.

Ancillary sectors like ice-factories, net making
units etc in areas like Dhamra, Jamboo, Kharinasi, Ramnagar,
Sandhakuda, Ambiki, Erasama and Paradipgada have closed down.

Skilled boat-makers from these areas are slowly
heading towards Digha and Vishakhapatnam due to bleak
business, Sardar said.

The forest department has its own way of demarcating
the sea territory while marine fisheries department had a
distinctive and separate demarcated line to detect unlawful
fishing. The poor fishermen are thoroughly confused by the
contradictory demarcation yardsticks, a group of marine
fishermen bemoaned.


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