The experts’ committee constituted by Orissa High Court to ensure the safety of endangered Olive ridley sea turtles has suggested the tracking of fishing trawlers on real time basis, saying that trawling poses threat to turtles, contributes towards the mortality of marine animals.
The three member panel comprising wildlife and environment activist Kartik Shankar, Sushant Nanda Director (environment) and Advocate Mohit Agarwal who had made an on-the-spot assessment of conservation measures at Gahirmatha nesting ground, are of the view that “there is an urgent need to track the trawling activities on real time basis”.
The mortality of the olive ridleys along the Odisha coast is attributed mainly due to the trawling operations in the sea as incidental killing due to suffocation in fishing nets of trawlers or by injury inflicted by the propellers of the trawler, the experts’ panel stated in its report.
In a fact-finding report submitted to the High Court, the panel stated “for that to happen, discussion may be initiated by the State Government with ISRO and the feasibility of installing transponders in all mechanized fishing vessels and trawlers to track them in sea should be worked out. This has been done in Tamil Nadu. The union government may be directed by Orissa High Court to co-operate in the matter”.
Suggesting a higher compensatory package towards the fishers getting affected by the fishing ban, the three-member committee said “the financial assistance of Rs 7,500 given to the fishermen affected due to the ban on fishing needs to be re-assessed and given to all the fishermen affected by the ban.
The committee felt that the assistance is of a small amount and therefore, the district administration maybe directed to engage the affected fishing community in MGNREGA works during the ban period.
While larger issues regarding the legal framework are being addressed, efforts should be made to adequately compensate any families that are affected by the current fishing bans.
The fishermen affected by the ban may also be involved in olive ridley conservation work and in all the related activities like congregation, monitoring and safe nesting of the turtles and be paid by the Forest and Environment Department to avail an alternative source of livelihood during the fishing ban period, the panel’s report opined.