Odisha fishers seek Rs 10,000 a month to make up for 7-month fishing ban

State ban on fishing by motorised vessels, trawlers to preserve Olive Ridley turtles starts today, November 1    

By Hrusikesh Mohanty
Published: Monday 01 November 2021

Odisha’s fishing community wants the state government to increase their monthly compensation during the seven-month ban on fishing from November 1, 2021, according to Odisha Traditional Fish Workers’ Union (OTFWU). 

They demanded the amount to be raised to Rs 10,000 per month from the Rs 7,500 one-time payment they’ve been receiving since 2018.  

Like every year, Odisha banned fishing by motorised vessels / trawlers within 20 kilometres of the shore along around 120 kilometres of its 480-km coastal stretch. The move aims to protect the endangered Olive Ridley turtles that congregate in the state for mass nesting (arribada) during that period.

The OTFWU also demanded: 

  • Reduction of the ban period to five months from January 
  • Reduction of ban area to 5 km from 20 km
  • Providing livelihood support to all the families that depend on fishing and related activities

The congregation area as well as buffer zones at the mouths of Dhamra, Devi and Rushikulya rivers as well Gahirmatha beach will be off-limits for fishers. 

Olive Ridleys feature in the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They surface on Odisha’s beaches in large numbers to lay eggs.

The state’s traditional fisherfolk who are dependent on marine fishing, however, expressed their dissatisfaction over the prolonged ban on fishing and the meagre livelihood support provided by the government during the ban period.

Till last year, the government provided Rs 7,500 per family as a one-time livelihood support to 14,178 families in Ganjam, Puri, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur, said Basant Kumar Sahu, deputy director of fishery (marine).

K Alleya, general secretary of OTFWU, said: 

It’s very difficult to maintain a family on such meager assistance. The allowance was revised to Rs 7,500 from Rs 5,000 in 2018, following our demands.

Thousands of traditional fishermen, including the persons involved in fishing, selling and boat mechanics, will be sitting idle for seven months from November 1, he added. “We want all the families to be covered in the livelihood support of the government.”

As many as 66 patrolling camps, including five off-shore camps, will be operated round the clock during the period to protect the turtles, their eggs in the rookeries. The authorities of Gopalpur Port and Dhamara Port were asked to provide necessary support for patrolling in the sea and berthing the vessels, according to official sources.

The Odisha government also requested the coast guards to share real-time intelligence with the departments about any illegal fishing in the no-fishing zones..

The state fisheries department developed a mobile application to help the fishermen be aware of the no-fishing zones. They will get an alert when they enter into the prohibited areas, said Raghu G, secretary of the fisheries department.

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