Olive Ridley Turtles

In November 2015, the Odisha Government has imposed seven-month ban till May, 2016 on fishing along the Puri coast in order to protect the endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are listed as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List. In India, they have been included in Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Astaranga coast and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, both in Odisha, are home to Olive Ridley Turtles. The coastal waters of Gahirmatha have been designated as a Marine Sanctuary, and thus, its only Marine sanctuary of Odisha. This sanctuary boasts of possessing the world’s largest known rookery of Olive Ridley sea turtles.

The Odisha state government is taking steps for patrolling and other measures for their protection. These turtles are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers, termed arribadas. The winter seasons is the mating and breeding season of these turtles.  Due to thus, the Odisha Government imposes a ban on fishing activities inside the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary as well as 20 kms off the shore from November to May under the state laws such as Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982 and Orissa Marine Fishing Rules, 1983.

But since this is a vast area, there is a heavy fishing pressure from local vessels as well as vessels from the neighbouring states like West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh and vessels from the neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand etc. The state government tries to deal with them to extent possible with available manpower and resources. Despite a ban continual illegal fishing using mechanized trawlers on Astaranga coast and Gahirmatha beaches, is posing serious threat to the endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

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