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  PlanetSave 4 Apr 06
Greenpeace: Illegal trawling kills thousands of endangered sea turtles on India's coasts
Written by Archana Mishra

PlanetArk 5 Apr 06
Greenpeace Sounds Alert Over Indian Turtle Deaths

NEW DELHI - More than 2,000 endangered Olive Ridley turtles have washed ashore dead in eastern India over the past three months, environmental pressure group Greenpeace said on Tuesday, blaming illegal fishing.

"This will be just a fraction of the population killed every year as many carcasses are never washed ashore," Greenpeace India campaigner Ashish Fernandes said. He said the deaths along the coast of the state of Orissa were reported by a Greenpeace monitoring team from the Devi region, 100 km (63 miles) east of Bhubaneswar, the state capital.

The group said in a statement that fishing in protected areas of sea continued to kill hundreds of turtles each month as the reptiles were caught in nets or mangled by engine propellers.

The Olive Ridely turtle, which reaches up to 75 cm (2.5 feet) in length and has an olive-green shell in adulthood, is found in coastal regions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Each winter, hundreds of thousands return to the beaches of Orissa to lay their eggs, attracting hundreds of tourists.

"By focusing on (this) wondrous phenomenon ...the (state) forest department may delude itself into believing that these deaths are insignificantly low," Fernandes said.

Greenpeace said that given a low natural survival rate -- only one in 1,000 hatchlings is believed to reach adulthood -- "the inescapable reality is that the turtle population will not survive this rate of attrition".

It warned that if turtles die in their thousands each winter, Olive Ridley numbers could face "total collapse" in a decade.

The Orissa government described the comments as an exaggeration, saying it has cut turtle deaths by educating fishermen, pushing aggressively for the use of nets that allow trapped turtles to escape and enforcing no-fishing rules. (Additional reporting by Sanjay Jeena in Bhubaneswar)

PlanetSave 4 Apr 06
Greenpeace: Illegal trawling kills thousands of endangered sea turtles on India's coasts
Written by Archana Mishra

BHUBANESWAR, India (AP): Illegal trawling is killing thousands of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles along India's eastern coastline, according to a recent survey by the environmental group Greenpeace India.

Dead Olive Ridley turtles litter a beach. Mass deaths of the small, hard-shelled turtles occur when they try to swim ashore to lay eggs, only to be netted by the trawlers or caught in their engine rotors, the report said.

"The report is a chilling reminder of the urgency of the issue as the endangered Olive Ridley turtles are being pushed further toward extinction," said Greenpeace activist Ashish Fernandes.

Greenpeace India volunteers, working in the nesting grounds along the coast of the eastern state of Orissa, saw more than 2,000 turtles killed near the mouth of the Devi River, one of the state's three "rookeries," Fernandes said. The river mouth is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa state.

Fernandes blamed the government for failing to protect the turtles by not enforcing the ban on trawling.

On Tuesday Greenpeace India activists held a protest outside the office of the state's chief wildlife warden, demanding protection for the turtles.

The chief wildlife warden, S.C. Mohanty, acknowledged turtles were killed, but blamed inadequate funds and manpower for the lack of government support. "We are trying to our best to bring down the death toll," Mohanty said.

The Olive Ridley sea turtle is found in the tropical waters of the northern Indian Ocean, the eastern Pacific, the Arabian Sea and in the eastern Atlantic along the coast of Africa. In the western Atlantic, most nesting occurs along a short stretch of beach on Surinam.

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