Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals
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Sea Turtle Protection

VSPCA report for Sea Turtle Season 2005 – 2006

Previous Sea Turtle reports: 2004-2005 Season and 2003-2004 Season.

I. Background

The sea turtle Campaign by the VSPCA has entered into the 10th year. Our protection plans for the endangered sea turtle (mainly Olive Ridleys) are being consolidated for further achievement.

VSPCA’s aim lies in doing the best for any animal in distress. Therefore beginning in 1996-1997 through field work we worked to stop the openly done and immense cruelties of illegal slaughtering of sea turtles for consummation and trophies. This was the worst problem and next was the strangling of turtles by trawler nets.

Today our sea turtle protection is a local household name. The awareness and the education level with the attitude to save them have resulted in conservation.

Starting from Visakhapatnam beach to Bhimili, Pudimadeka and Gangavaram we have moved forward towards the north coast of Orissa up to 40kms. Also, we have joined this movement with the fishermen and their community participation.

Through various mode and levels of ideas projected from field protection community based protection to religious sentiment and through legal process it has been one successful effort after another in the protection of the endangered Olive Ridleys sea turtle so far.

And we hope that by these strong efforts we will be able to spread the message far and wide and seek further cooperation and coordination from all concerned to cover ultimately the entire coastal belt of Andhra Pradesh which is 892 kms.

We have concluded that the coast of Andhra Pradesh especially the northern belt to Orissa coast is the largest rookery in the world for the Olive Ridleys sea turtle. Therefore there is huge potential for the coast of Andhra Pradesh becoming one of the main significant nesting grounds. With more wider places available its potential for the success rate of the hatchlings going into the sea is great.

II. Areas covered

We have since covered up to the coast of Anavaram 40km comprising of 24 villages. The idea was enthusiastically and joyfully adopted by the fishing community giving them a sense of responsibility, understanding and feeling of natural and moral protection for these species.

III. Area extended

From 4kms in 1996-1997 to this season, it was extended to 40kms field protection and 60 kms awareness and education campaigns.

IV. Community participation

As observed above we began this community-based protection since 2003-2004, which is relatively very recent. In a way we were compelled to move our plans through this community system because we had no resources to do it all by ourselves. We felt that this mode was the best method. And since then we have not been disappointed we now have the strongest ethical feeling and cooperation from the community. This system of working with all has its own pitfalls but also many more advantages than just working on our own.

V. Voluntary participation

We had both overseas and local volunteers this year. Both groups had strong and eager feelings to protect and work aggressively to save the turtles. We became innovative through their ideas and with their participation it has helped us reach our objective for this season.

VI. Awareness campaign

Every sea turtle season we launch from a joint organized meeting of all departments concerned. This includes Forest Department, Fishing Industry, Marketing, Central Institute of Fishing Training, Fisherman Association and NGOs.

NGOs include “Vikasa” a fishermen welfare people. These meetings are all official and are being done in coordination with the Forest Department. And the Trawler Association. The meeting is done to instill confidence amongst all the stakeholders and also to renew the pledge to save and protect the seaturtles. We discuss issues of cooperation and each one's effort officially. However many efforts are still only on paper but there is no harm to keep trying.

This time we had the opportunity to create a good awareness campaign that includes a beach clean up programmed by the school children along with the Rotary club. Also the forest department Pagoda along the beach road was permitted to us to use towards the education campaign at the beach.

VII. Hindrances

In the name of development, there is gross violation in the observation of the marine laws. The Central Regulation Zone is a mockery by the violators who unfortunately remain in the responsible position deciding its critical use.

We have been resisting during the past six years the beach sand mining to take place at all as it will wipe out the entire sea turtle habitat in this area.

Also we has been resisting by battling in the courts to not allow the four bye lane expansion of the 24km Bhimili Beach which will only serve the business mongers but not the sea turtle whose habitats are in absolute danger.

We also trying very hard to make the authority observe the CRZ rules and do not permit any development in the sensitive zones.

Tourism is the new buzz word, which is gaining more support as Visakhapatnam is today one of the fastest growing cities in Asia and endowed with the golden beach so there is a huge rush to commercialise the beach sand.

We also try very hard unsuccessfully so far to make the authorities understand and observe the basic rules at least during the sea turtle season.

We try very hard every season to seek the cooperation of the fishing trawler associations to observe the principle of adopting the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) to these fishing nets but unfortunately due to the non-implementation of this thousands and thousands of adult sea turtle are still cruelly strangled in their nets.

Our message each season is to keep trying with grim determination and strong commitment!

Sea Turtle nesting data from:

A) Coast Guard to VUDA = The number of nesting noted are = 118

B) VUDA to Endada = The number of nesting noted are = 169

C) Endada to Bhimili = The number of nesting noted are = 56

D) Bhimili to Anavaram (community based) = The number of nesting are = 84

Thus, total number nesting from Visakha Urban to Anavaram are 427.

Our observations are that now the The Visakha Urban Beach area is losing ground as a good nesting area by 20% each year and the shift is heading towards the north (such as the Endada beach area) as they are less disturbed areas. So another nesting ground lost due to human population increase.

It is thus important to not allow any kind of projects that would usher in more disturbances and development that would destroy the Sea turtle habitat.

We still continue to carry out our awareness campaign at selected potential points along the Srikakulam coast. This area has the best habitat and high nesting incidences being adjacent to the Orissa coast.

Pradeep Kumar Nath, President and Founder
VSPCA
26-15-200 Main Road
Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh 530001, India
www.vspca.org