Coastal development and harmful fishing have led to a declining number of turtles in India.
This is stated in a new report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) here on Wednesday.
The study, based on country reports of 27 signatories to the global turtle conservation network, says the marine turtle population has declined in most regions. It has been eliminated almost entirely in some.
The Indian Ocean is home to five turtle species — the Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback and Flatback. Of these, the most prominent is the Olive Ridley, which has the world’s biggest nesting area in Gahirmatha and Rushikulya off the coast of Orissa.
The four other species have almost disappeared from the Indian coasts, the report says.
The report cites various factors behind turtle mortality in recent decades. Among them are widespread exploitation for eggs, meat and shell, fisheries-related mortality and destruction and degradation of critical habitats. Pollution and inappropriate management practices are other factors.
Sanjeev Gopal of international NGO Greenpeace says that in the last decade India has lost over 1.20 lakh turtles because of illegal fishing and coastal development.