KENDRAPARA: Three forest guards of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary sustained injuries after being allegedly attacked by a group of fishermen in the sea around 10 km off the coast on Saturday evening. The accused fishermen also damaged a patrolling vessel of the Forest department.
The injured forest guards were identified as Deepak Mandal, Ajit Jardhar and Madhusudan Behera. The trio managed to return to the coast on Sunday and was subsequently admitted to the district headquarters hospital at Kendrapara. They also lodged a complaint with the Marine police at Talachua.
Range officer of the marine sanctuary Debashis Bhoi said the crew members of a fishing trawler attacked the forest guards with logs and sharp weapons when they warned them not to fish in the marine sanctuary areas. They also damaged a part of their patrolling vessel and tried to sink it in the sea. On being informed, more security forces and forest guards rushed to the sea and arrested nine fishermen.
As the breeding season of the endangered Olive Ridleys is underway, trawlers and other vessels have been directed not to fish within 20 km from the coastline of the marine sanctuary covering 1,435 sq km from Hukitola to Dhamara. Forest officials have deployed guards to arrest fishermen who enter the prohibited areas violating the fishing ban. Since the enforcement of the fishing ban from November 1, around 55 fishermen have been taken into custody and 12 vessels seized for unlawful fishing within the jurisdiction of the sanctuary, informed Bhoi.
“We have established 15 turtle protection camps including three offshore ones at Agaranashi, Barunei and Babubali islands to protect the turtles. Personnel of marine police stations at Kharinashi and Paradip besides the coast guards are also helping forest officials to prevent illegal fishing this year. We have demarcated the marine sanctuary areas by putting eight buoys in the sea,” he said. The fishing ban will remain in force till May 31.