Olive Ridley preservation hits fishermen in Orissa
IN Orissa, a battle rages between marine conservation and local fisherfolk. At the heart of this conflict is the ban on fishing in the vicinity of the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary. The 1,435-sq km-long sanctuary stretches along 70-km of the coastline of Kendrapara district and was established in 1997 to protect the endangered Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtle. It also acts as a nursery for fish. The area provided livelihoods to thousands of fishermen, till the ban complicated matters. But whilst the activities of fishermen have been restricted, the construction of a mega-port has been permitted and oil exploration has been given the go ahead with minimal investigation into impacts on Gahirmatha.
Besides Olive Ridleys, the sanctuary also protects dolphins and saltwater crocodiles. But the turtle is truly its flagship species.More then 150,000 turtles congregate off the Kendrapara coast every winter to breed before the females come ashore to lay eggs in a mass nesting event known as an arribada