Kendrapada, Nov 27 (UNI) Bhitarkanika forest officials have arrested 17 fishermen and seized four trawlers found fishing in the prohibited zone under Gahirmatha Marine sanctuary.
Rajnagar mangrove (forest) and Wildlife Divisions DFO A K Jena today said forest officials, patrolling the sea coast to protect the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles, found four mechanised trawlers inside the prohibited zone, between Satabhaya and Chinchiri mouth.
Later, forest officials arrested 17 fishermen, seized the mechanised vessels and the fish catch from their possession.
The arrested persons, belonging to Balaramgadi in Balasore and Paradip of Jagatsinghpur district, were produced before the Judicial Magistrate's First Class court at Pattmundai last Saturday under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
They were remanded to jail custody after their bail applications were rejected by the court.
The State Forest Department had imposed a ban on fishing, about 20 kms off the shore from November to May, to protect the endangered marine sea turtles, who congregate in lakhs for mating and breeding at Gahirmatha Marine sanctuary.
Last year, Bhitarkanika Forest personnel seized 41 trawlers and arrested more than 80 fishermen for fishing illegally inside the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary during the ban period.
Gahirmatha rookery is stated to be the largest rookery in the world for the Olive Ridleys.