Sea turtle conservation workers in India are slowing the planned construction of a massive shipping port that would disturb olive ridley sea turtles, but they need our help. The Sea Turtle Restoration Project is coordinating a U.S. coalition to support their efforts. The following news story features our conservation ally Kartik Shanker in India.
Olive Ridleys May be Spared from Port Expansion in Orissa
The Indian Times - Economic Times Nov. 5, 2010
NEW DELHI: The endangered olive ridley turtle
could well upset South Korean steel maker Posco’s plans to construct a captive
port at Jatadhar in Orissa.
The proposed port at the mouth of River Jatadhar of the Mahanadi delta would be
located in close proximity to the congregation area of the olive ridley sea
turtles. It would also be in close proximity to mass nesting beaches for
turtles, including the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
The olive ridley turtle is listed as a protected species under the Indian Wildlife
Protection Act. Given the importance of the area for the protection of turtles,
the mouth of the Jatadhar river has been designated as protected waters under
the Orissa Marine Fisheries Regulation Act.
There are concerns about the impact of increased illumination from the proposed
port on the nesting sites for adult turtles, as well. The large number of
ports, many of which are in proposal stage, has become a cause of concern for
the impact it has on marine life. The area is also home to dolphins, among other
“Orissa has the largest nesting population of olive ridleys outside Central
America. Also, the olive ridley turtle population in the Orissa coast is
unique. Genetic studies show that olive ridley populations in the Pacific and
Atlantic originated from India's east coast. Therefore, from the conservation
perspective, protecting the habitat along the Orissa coastline takes on greater
importance,” said ecologist Kartik Shanker, faculty at the Indian Institute of
Science , Bangalore.
Mr Shanker is part of a group of ecologists and biologists who have drawn
attention to the impact of the increased port construction on the Orissa coast.
The group also includes Romulus Whitaker of the Madras Crocodile Bank ,
Sudarshan Rodriguez of TISS, Sejal Worah of WWF-India. The scientists will be
conveying their concerns about the need to protect the ecosystem of the Orissa
coast to the environment ministry shortly. Earlier, they had submitted their
views to the ministry appointed Posco review panel as well.
“Over the years, the intensity of illumination from the Paradip port has
intensified although located at a distance of approximately 50 km from the
Gahirmatha nesting site. We are of the opinion that the illumination and glow
of light from the Posco port area will inhibit nesting from taking place at the
Devi river mouth,” the biologists said in their communication.
They have drawn attention to the fact that the environment impact assessment
report for the port project prepared by M N Dastur and Company made no mention
of the impact the port would have on the marine environment of the area.
“The report is not a suitable document for assessing impacts on the marine
environment, particularly on the globally significant population of sea turtles,”
the communication states. India is a signatory to the Indian Ocean memorandum
of understanding for the conservation of sea turtles and a party to the
Convention on Migratory Species.
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