Kendrapada, Nov 30 (Odisha.in) The forest and the police officials have arrested at least 36 fishermen and seized five trawlers near the sea water of the Gahiramatha marine sanctuary in the district of Kendrapada district for illegally fishing in prohibited area, official said.
The state government banned all types of fishing within the 20 km off the sea shore from 35 km long Agaranashi to Gahiramatha to protect the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles from 1st, November to 31st, May, A.K. Jena the divisional forest officer of Bhitarkanika national park said.
The forest officials arrested them Wednesday night under the sections-29 and 7 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The arrested persons were produced before the local court on Thursday. The court rejected their bail applications and remanded them into jail custody.
“All the arrested fishermen from Bhadrak district were illegally fishing in the marine sanctuary for which we arrested them.
Large numbers of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles have arrived to mate on the seawater. But, all the arrested fishermen were illegally entered the prohibited areas. We auctioned all the seized fish from the five trawlers”, added the forest officer.
Last year , a fisherman, Vikash Biswas of Kharinashi village in Kendrapada district was shot dead by the forest guards on the sea while he along with other fishermen were fishing at the Gahiramatha marine sanctuary.
Anatha Das , the Secretary of Kendrapada District Fishermen’s Association alleged that the forest officials have been harassing the fishermen as the hapless fisher folk failed to grease the palms of the forest officials.
He also stated the forest guards and police have illegally demanded ten thousand rupees as bribe from each trawler owner to release their vessels but the fishermen refused to pay the amount for which the forest officials have illegally seized their trawlers when they were fishing beyond 20 km from the marine national park.
The fate of about 30,000 traditional fishermen is now at stake in Kendrapada and Jagatsingpur districts after the government imposed fishing ban on the fisher folk from 1st November to 31st May to protect the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.
The government banned all the fishing activities in the sea coast within twenty km to protect the turtles in Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur districts. But the fishermen alleged that the forest officials are not allowing them to catch even beyond the twenty km off the coast.