In a mid-sea interception on illegal fishing in Odisha, Gahirmatha marine sanctuary authorities have seized four trawlers and arrested 31 sea-going fishermen.
The four fishing trawls used by the intruders for fishing along the prohibited marine sanctuary area were seized on Thursday by the patrolling unit engaged by forest department near Babubali coast, a senior forest official said.
Sea fish catch weighing about six quintals were seized from the impounded vessels, he said.
Prohibition on sea fishing remains enforced round the year in the marine sanctuary limits. However, sea patrolling is stepped up within Gahirmatha marine sanctuary water territory during November-May every year in view of the annual mass nesting season of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.
"It is unlawful to fish in the marine sanctuary throughout the year," said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, B P Acharya.
The arrested fishermen are natives of fishing villages in Mahakalpada block of Kendrapara district and Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, officials said.
The fishing vessels had trespassed into prohibited sanctuary corridors contravening the provisions of wildlife protection act, Orissa Marine fishing regulation act and mandatory rules of the marine sanctuary.
They were forwarded to jail custody Friday under the relevent provisions of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and The Odisha Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982, they said.