KENDRAPARA (Odisha): As part of its annual mission to ensure the safe mid-sea sojourn of breeding Olive Ridley sea turtles in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary area of Odisha, the Coast Guard has launched 'Operation Oliver'.
In a joint coordination with the forest department, the turtle conservation programme is in full swing to keep watch and vigil on illegal fishing along the turtle concentration zone, said deputy commandant (Operation) of Coast Guard J V Paul.
With round-the-clock vigil, the coast guard is trying to provide adequate protection to the endangered species.
Besides its fleet of ships, CG has also pressed into service a dornier aircraft for operation oliver to keep a tab on illegal fishing in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary. The coast guard has organised interactive sessions with fishermen communities to sensitise them on the legal embargo on fishing during ridleys' nesting season.
"The patrol exercise for surveillance on trespassing sea-worthy trawls is in full swing as turtles perish in large number after getting hit on trawl propellers. Besides, breeding animals get entangled in fishing nets and are asphyxiated to death," said deputy commandant Paul.
As the turtles have begun arriving en masse for mating, an aircraft is being pressed into service for easy interception of illegal trawling operation along the marine sanctuary water zone.
"The coast guard is always on alert to check trespassing of vessels. The patrol vessels engaged by forest and fisheries department often seek CG ship assistance in the event of exigencies. The operation to save turtles is being carried on in a coordinated manner," he said.
A state-of-the-art CG ship is maintaining round-the-clock vigil along the coastal shoreline. The CG patrol in turtle congregation sites would remain in force till the marine turtles finish laying eggs on nesting beaches, added CG personnel.
There is an increase in awareness level among fishermen communities. As a result, unlawful sea fishing activity has dropped considerably this year. One trawl has so far been intercepted for illegal fishing since the prohibition was clamped on sea fishing from November 1 within the 20 km radius of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.