Fishing ban in Gahirmatha, fishermen resent
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Last Updated: Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 15:49
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.


First Published: Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 15:49

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