3 rangers allege injuries in open sea assault
Trawler crew members attack rangers when asked not to fish at sanctuary, 9 arrested
At least three rangers at Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary were injured in an alleged assault in the open sea 10 kilometers off the coast on November 27, 2021 by a group of fishermen. They also allegedly damaged a patroller from the forestry department.
The crew of a trawler attacked the rangers when they warned them not to fish in the sanctuary, the injured rangers said. They also allegedly tried to sink the boat in the sea.
A complaint was lodged with the Talachua maritime police station; nine fishermen were arrested on November 27, forestry officials added.
âThe fishermen assaulted forestry personnel with logs and sharp weapons and damaged the patroller’s equipment. More security forces and forest rangers rushed out to sea to grab the crew members, âsaid Debashis Bhoi, shooting officer at the shrine.
The three injured rangers – Deepak Mandal, Ajit Jardhar and Madhusudan Behera – managed to return to the coast on November 28 and were admitted to the Kendrapara District Headquarters Hospital.
Trawlers and other fishing vessels have been ordered not to fish within 20 kilometers of the coast in the sanctuary areas stretching over 1,435 square kilometers from Hukitola to Dhamara.
The Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary was established in 1997 to protect sea turtles; lakhs of turtles come to the coast of Gahiramatha to lay eggs in winter.
âGahirmatha Beach is the largest sea turtle colony in the world for which the government has banned all types of fishing for seven months to save endangered marine species,â Bhoi said.
He added that 15 turtle protection camps, including three camps off the islands of Agaranashi, Barunei and Babubali, have been established to protect turtles in the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.
âPolice officers from the Kharinashi and Paradip Marine Police Stations as well as the Coast Guard will help forest officials prevent illegal fishing. We have demarcated the marine sanctuary by putting eight buoys in the sea water, âsaid the forester.
No less than 55 marine fishermen have been arrested and 12 fishing boats seized for illegal fishing activities in the jurisdiction of the sanctuary since the entry into force of the fishing ban on November 1, he added.
No less than 349,694 turtles laid eggs from March 9 to 23, 2021 on the sanctuary’s Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 islands, he said.
Forest guards and coast guards arrest several fishermen. This happens because the âno-fishing zoneâ is usually not demarcated, âsaid Prasan Kumar Behera, president of the Odisha traditional fishing workers union.
Mayadhar Mallick (45), a fisherman from Narayanpur village was shot dead by armed coastguard personnel in the deep waters of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in 2019. Akbar Ali Khan (21), crew member ‘A fishing trawler was shot down by an armed forest guards in 2014 in the marine sanctuary.
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