Chennai: The Madras High Court was on Monday informed that not a single case of poaching or killing of Olive Ridley turtle has been slapped on any fisherman in the past ten years and there has been no incident of turtle poaching off Chennai coast since 2012.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden of the state Forest Department V K Melkani told the court about the matter after the court suo motu took up as PIL a report on Olive Ridley turtle deaths published in an English daily.
Earlier, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M M Sundresh, decided to take up the report on mass deaths of sea turtles as a PIL. It also appointed an amicus curiae to assist the court.
Answering a set of 10 questions raised by amicus curiae T Mohan, Melkani said "no case against the fishermen has been booked in the last 10 years. It is a very sensitive matter and catching fish is the only livelihood option for fishermen."
Listing the awareness campaigns organized by the department in the past five years, the officer said "there is almost no incident of turtle poaching from the year 2012-13 onwards."
The officer admitted that Tamil Nadu forest department had not taken any specific and authentic study on turtle mortality but said that it had been observed from various sources/students that trawlers and various destructive fishing practices caused trouble.
A total of 41,527 eggs were collected during 2013-14, Melkani said, adding 34,243 hatchlings were released into the sea during that year. "Also, fishermen are being motivated to use turtle excluder device (TED) to avoid mortality of turtles caught in fishing nets." Besides, 18 forest personnel have been engaged in turtle conservation activities, he said.
The First Bench adjourned the matter to April 1 for further hearing.