In a huge move the Indian Coast Guard has launched ‘Operation Oliva’ as part of its mission to ensure safe mid-sea breeding of Olive Ridley turtles and to intercept intruding fishing vessels.

The operation has been launched along the sea waters of Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and is a joint effort with the local forest department. The turtle conservation programme is in full swing to keep a vigil on illegal fishing along the turtle concentration zone, according to local officials. Nearly 40 trawls have been nabbed so far on charge of trespassing into the prohibited sea waters and nearly 250 fishermen have been held for illegal fishing.

The arrested fishermen were handed over to the forest department for prosecution. Last week, as many as 196 fishermen were caught and 24 trawls used by them for fishing were seized, officials added.

The Coast Guard has also chalked out a pro-active plan for these marine animals’ conservation with round-the-clock vigil, thereby providing adequate protection to the endangered species. Besides a ship, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has also pressed into service an aircraft for Operation Oliva and is keeping tab on illegal fishing in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.

The Coast Guard has organised interactive sessions with the fishermen community to sensitise them on the pros and cons of the embargo on fishing during the Ridleys’ nesting season.

The Coast Guard patrol in turtle congregation sites would remain in force till the turtles finish laying eggs on nesting beaches, reports in the local media indicate.

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