800 dead turtles wash up since January on beaches in Odisha, India

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At least 800 Olive Ridley sea turtles died, their carcasses washed ashore since January 2021, on the beaches of Odisha — 30 kilometres along the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary and its nearby areas from Silali to Nasi beach.

Gahirmatha marine sanctuary is the world’s largest rookery of the sea turtles.

“Turtles die after getting stuck in fishing nets. Many dead turtles bore injuries, which pointed to the possibility of them being trapped in a trawl or gill net,” said Hemant Rout, environmentalist and secretary, Gahirmatha Marine Turtles and Mangrove Conservation Society.

The trawlers are supposed to fish beyond five kilometres from the coast, according to Odisha Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982. They are allowed to fish beyond 20 km from the coast in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary. But they violate the law and fish near the shore. As a result, turtles get caught in trawl nets and die, added Rout.

One of the two patrolling boats — purchased for Rs 6 crores four years ago — has been lying defunct for the last six months, according to Rout.

The risk to turtles can be reduced by equipping trawlers with turtle excluder devices (TED), which is a small additional net or metal grid inside the net that allows turtles to escape.

While the concept of enforcing legislation to use TED in trawler nets is not even remotely in sight, the government is planning to construct a riverine port at Akhadasali at the Mahanadi river near the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.

Courtesy of downtoearth.org.in


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