Intensifying its drive on illegal fishing, forest personnel have taken into custody 32 seagoing fishermen today for sneaking into prohibited Gahirmatha marine sanctuary. With the latest interception, 373 fishermen have so far been arrested for acts of intrusion into the marine sanctuary to ensure the safety of Olive Ridley sea turtles, said forest officials.

Fifty two sea-worthy vessels were also seized in the process since 1 November enforcement of the sea-fishing ban.Four sea-worthy fishing vessels engaged in unlawful fishing activity within the Gahirmatha sanctuary were seized by the protection squad. The fishing vessels had trespassed into prohibited sanctuary corridors contravening the provisions of wildlife protection act,Orissa Marine fishing regulation act and mandatory rules of marine sanctuary, said Forest Range Officer, Gahirmatha Forest Range, Subrat Patra.

The crackdown of unlawful sea fishing has been stepped up in an attempt to make the turtles’ concentration zone from human interference. The traditional marine fishermen who formed the crew of the impounded vessel were from Balasore, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts. They were later forwarded to jail under Section-27& 29of the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act,1972 and Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982.

Foursea-worthy patrolling vessels were pressed in to service with a contingent of 50 armed policemen to intercept fishing trawls engaged in unlawful fishing activities in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary. To invigorate the patrolling, coastguard, defense research development organization and marine wing of state police have extended wholehearted shore up the mission to ensure the safety of Olive Ridley sea turtles.

The operation to stop unlawful trawling to ensure the safety of Olive Ridley turtles is being jointly conducted by coast guards, forest, police and fisheries department after the marine animals stepped into their annual breeding season, said Div-Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Div, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.