KENDRAPARA: The Indian Coast Guard has pressed into service an aircraft for 'Operation Oliva', the coastal patrolling as part of its annual mission to ensure the safe mid-sea sojourn of breeding Olive Ridley sea turtles in Odisha. In joint coordination with the state forest department, the turtle conservation programme is in full swing to keep watch and vigil on illegal fishing along the turtle concentration zone, said a Coast Guard official.

The Coast Guard has chalked out a proactive plan for these marine animals' conservation. With round-the-clock vigil, the coast guard has been able to provide adequate protection to the endangered species, an official said.

The CG aircraft keep a tab on illegal fishing in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, Dhamra, Devi and Rushikulya river mouths, he said.

Meanwhile, the coast guard has organized interactive sessions with the marine fishermen communities to sensitize them on the pros and cons of the legal embargo on fishing during Olive Ridleys' nesting season.

The patrol exercise for surveillance on trespassing sea-worthy trawls is on as turtles perish in large numbers after getting hit on trawl propellers. Besides breeding animals get entangled in fishing nets and are asphyxiated to death, he said.

The coast guard is always on alert to check trespassing of vessels. The patrol vessels engaged by the forest and fisheries department often seek CG ship assistance in the event of emergencies. The operation to save turtles is being carried on in a coordinated manner, they said.

"We are always ready to help the forest and fisheries department for the safety of these delicate marine species", they added.