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Coast guard personnel have arrested 39 fishermen for alleged unlawful trawling activities in turtle concentration zones of Odisha's Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.
Four fishing vessels used by the intruders to venture into the prohibited sanctuary were also seized by the patrolling unit on board a ship, Coast Guard commandant Ashis said.
The interception took place yesterday near Agarnasi coast, around 11 nautical miles from Paradip shore, Ashis said.
The coast guard ship had spotted the trawls and asked the fishermen to surrender through a wireless communication system. They surrendered soon after, he said.
The fishing vessels had trespassed into prohibited corridors, contravening the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act and the rules of the marine sanctuary.
The fishermen and the seized vessels were later handed over to forest department, the commandant added.
The turtles usually get ensnared in fishing nets or hit by trawls' propellers, Gahirmatha Forest Range Officer Subrata Patra explained.
"The Coast Guard has done a commendable job to ensure the safety of turtles in the sanctuary," Patra said, adding that the fishermen were produced before a local court, which remanded them in judicial custody for 14 days.