Fishermen in the coastal districts of Maharashtra have compensated with Rs.40.78 lakh in the last three years for safely releasing into water 260 protected marine species, including Olive Ridley and green sea turtles, that was accidentally caught in their fishing nets, an official release has said.
This compensation is being paid as part of the scheme of the state forest and fisheries departments launched in December 2018. The scheme is aimed at conserving rare and protected marine animals.
To date, 138 Olive Ridley turtles, 67 green sea turtles, five hawksbill turtles, two leatherback sea turtles, 37 deer sharks, six giant guitarfish, humpback dolphin and four finless porpoises have been released into the sea, said the statement.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Thursday that the Mangrove Cell (Kandalvan Pratishthan) has paid compensation to the fishermen for the damage caused to their fishing nets. The cell has done commendable work for the protection of marine biodiversity, and similar such serious efforts are needed for the conservation of biodiversity in the state, he added. The chief minister also called for an extensive public awareness drive for the Mangrove Cell initiative.
The conservation project, launched in 2018, fishermen who cut their nets to free protected marine mammals and fish are entitled to compensation. The scheme aims at conserving endangered marine species and ensures the fishing community’s participation in the process. The scheme was based on the Gujarat model where the forest department compensates fishermen for rescuing whales.
Speaking at an event, Maharashtra environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray informed about the government’s steps for the protection and conservation of mangroves. The steps include mangrove subsistence creation, mangrove afforestation, mangrove nature tourism and removal of encroachments on mangroves, among others.
Maharashtra’s mangrove cover is 32,000 hectares, said Aaditya Thackeray, adding that while protecting mangroves, they are being given the status of reserved forests.
The work of installing CCTVs for the protection of mangroves is underway. With these efforts, the state’s mangrove-covered has gone up by four square kilometres as per the Indian Forest Survey Report 2021, the minister said.