A survey found nearly 800 dead sea turtles on the Odisha coast, DTE reported February 4
The Orissa High Court directed the state government March 16, 2021 to install transponders in all mechanised fishing vessels to track their movements and save Olive Ridley sea turtles from fishing nets.
The high court also asked the Government of India to extend its cooperation in the matter.
The court directed that the following measures suggested in the report of the panel constituted to look into the issue should be immediately put in place by the state:
The court’s action followed a February 4 report in Down to Earth that 800 Olive Ridley turtles had died since January this year due to negligence of the state’s forest and fisheries department.
The court took suo motu cognisance of the report February 23 and registered a case. It constituted a three-member panel February 26 comprising of Kartik Shankar, a sea turtle researcher of the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, Sushant Nanda, director (environment) of the state forest administration and advocate Mohit Agarwal.
All three members of the panel interacted with fisherfolk, locals, forest and fisheries officials March 6. The panel submitted its report to the high court March 15.
A division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice BP Routray issued directions to ensure the safety of endangered Olive Ridley turtles and curb their mortality rate after hearing from Mohit Agarwal, the amicus curiae and PK Muduli, the additional government advocate for the state.
More than 60-70 per cent of the Olive Ridley mortalities between 2010-11 and 2019-20 had happened in the Devi estuary alone, according to figures furnished by the principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife).
The current estimated mortality was 4,000-7,000 Olive Ridley Sea turtles per year. Most turtle mortality along the Odisha coast was mainly due to trawling operations, according to the report submitted by the panel.
There was also incidental killing of turtles due to suffocation in fishing nets of trawlers or by injuries inflicted by the propellers of the trawlers.
The court posted the next date of hearing April 29.
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