Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], October 26 (ANI): Odisha model for preservation and growth of Olive Ridley sea turtles under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has proved as the best practice, said experts in the State High Power Committee on the conservation of Olive Ridley held under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra.
"Odisha has contributed significantly towards preservation and growth of this endangered species. Odisha model for conservation of the species has been applauded in international forums," said Dr K Sivkumar, scientist, Wildlife Institute of India and Dr Priyambada Mohanty (Hejmadi).
Chief Secretary Mahapatra directed the departments of forest and environment, fisheries and animal resource development, police, marine police, coast guard and port authorities on Odisha coast to have concerted efforts at the ground level in conservation and nurturing of the Olive Ridley as a precious treasure of the nature. He said, "As we have earned more experience and state is investing a large amount of money for the purpose, we must deliver best in saving this species for the world community".
Mahapatra also directed to ensure strict enforcement of the conservation rules along the nesting coasts. The Coast Guard was requested to have real-time intelligence sharing with the departments about any illegal fishing. The institutions like DRDO, Dhamara Port, Gopalpur Port and Paradeep port authorities were requested to follow the black-out practices and light deeming to save turtles from possible delusion. They were asked to provide the necessary support for joint patrolling in the sea and berthing of the vessels. He also directed to actively involve all other stakeholders, NGOs and the local community in this task, said the state goverment in a statement.
Additional Chief Secretary Forest and Environment Dr Mona Sharma appraised, "Four wildlife divisions of the state namely Bhadrak, Rajnagar, Puri and Berhampur are in readiness for conservation operations this year. These divisions have been equipped with five numbers of high-speed boats, along with 13 trawlers and support boats for chasing illegal activities in the sea."
PCCF Wildlife Dr Sashi Paul appraised that last year around 3.5 lakh turtles laid eggs on the Gahiramatha coast. 38 trawlers were seized and 202 persons were arrested. Mass nesting took place at Gahiramatha between March 10 to March 24.
The Secretary Fisheries and Animal Resource Development R Raghu Prasad said, " In the meanwhile, a mobile app has been developed for the fishermen and the officers at the ground level. The fisherman can see the no-fishing zone in the app itself. They will also get an alert message when they enter the no-fishing area".
Chief Secretary Mahapatra directed all officers engaged in the conservation operation to download the app for asserting the location of the fishing boats.
The meeting deliberated on Action Plan for 2021-22. The scientists opined that as per the natural behaviour of the turtles, this year there might be buffer nesting along the Odisha coast. It was decided that the regional conservator of forests would monitor the operations in their respective jurisdiction in close coordination with district administration, police and other concerned departments.
One central monitoring unit would be set up in the office of the Chief Wildlife Warden. It was also decided that operations would start from November 1, 2021 and would continue up to May 2022. Fishing by motorised vessels/trawlers and mechanised techniques would be banned within 20 kilometres from the specified coast of the sea comprising sea turtle congregation area and their buffer zones in three river mouths namely Dhamara river mouth, Devi river mouth and Rusikulya river mouth.
Wide awareness activities would be undertaken for this purpose. There would be circle level monitoring mechanisms under the direct supervision of the Regional Conservator of Forests (RCCF), Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Baripada. Berthing places would be set up at Barunei, Gupti, Sasanapeta and Krushnapriyapur and Rajnagar for the safe custody of the seized vessels.
A total number of 66 patrolling campsites including 61 on-shores and five off-shore camps would be operated round the clock. Each camp would be provided with VHF communication devices, mobile phones and required camping materials. There would be regular communication and intelligence sharing among coast guards, patrol ships, and various camps and marine police. The armed police force would be deployed for patrolling and enforcement activities. Sporadic nesting activities of the turtles and their mortality would be monitored through a web portal under the title 'manage.odishawildlife.org'.
Soon after mass nesting, the rookeries would be fenced to protect the nests and eggs. Patrolling along with watch and ward activities would be strengthened further. (ANI)