Environmentalists in India oppose blanket ban on fishing during turtle nesting season

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Environmentalists and fishermen alike are opposing the recent blanket ban on all mechanized boats by the Government of Tamil Nadu during Olive Ridley nesting season in 2017.

The notice issued by the Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries department of Tamil Nadu.

The ban imposed by the Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries department stops all fishing activity by mechanized boats within 5 nautical miles with effect from January to April, 2017 in six districts of Tamil Nadu.
Environmentalists fear including artisan boats in the ban will not only deprive small scale fishermen from a livelihood but also poison their attitude towards turtle conservation. Every year, young fishermen participate in turtle walks alongside conservation groups to help identify nests and secure them to ensure safety of the hatchlings.
even call the turtles their god. If the government does not let artisan boats fish then it will poison the attitude of conservation that we have worked hard to cultivate. It will poison their attitude,” says Akila Balu, coordinator of Student Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN).
Conservation groups like SSTCN, Tree Foundation and others have welcomed the extension of the ban from 3 nautical miles to 5 nautical miles but are opposing the inclusion of small artisan motor boats which rarely pose as threats for the turtles.

“The artisan boats being included in the ban is not helping the turtles and is harmful for the fishermen,” continued Ms. Balu.
The fishing community has raised hue and cry over the September 27 ban as the impediment of feeding their family for four months without fishing dooms them. In their defence, mechanized vessels like trawlers pose a bigger threat to the turtles with their propellers and deep nets.

“We fish within five miles and hardly earn Rs.10. The trawlers which cross 5 nautical miles do the damage and earn more. The gill net they use obstructs the turtles and strangulates them. Our nets are easy to escape for the turtles,” says Desingh, a local fisherman.
Environmental activists and conservation groups have written to the Government in Charge of the Fisheries department and Forest department to bring to light their concerns.
Story by Sharanya Munsi and Karan Kumar.
Originally published on Medium

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