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2L fishing boats without tracking device : The Tribune India

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tribune news service

Ajay Banerjee

New Delhi, 26 November

Years after the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India still struggles to equip fishing vessels costing almost Rs 2.22 lakh with tracking devices.

No lessons learned from 26/11 to 14 years

  • Without an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder, boats less than 20 meters in length cannot be identified as friendly or hostile.
  • 2.2 million boats do not have AIS tracking equipment and cannot be identified by the 46 coastal radars and 74 AIS receivers installed since 26/11.

“This is still a work in progress,” said a Navy source, noting that “this is an unfinished business of the Coast Guard Plan approved after 26/11.”

After the 26/11 attacks, the Cabinet Secretary-led National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS) had elaborate plans.

Without a tracking device called an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder, small boats less than 20 meters in length cannot distinguish between friendly and hostile boats. The 2.2 lakh boat does not have his AIS tracking equipment, so the 46 coastal radars and 74 AIS receivers installed since 26/11 cannot detect these.

Vessels less than 20 meters in length are not required to have AIS transponders. These boats form the bulk of the fleet of fishing communities that dot the country’s 7,500 km long coastline.

AIS is mandatory for vessels over 20 meters. The AIS transponder always emits a signal specific to the boat and the same signal is received by ground radar and her AIS receiver. The signal identifies the boat, its owner, its registration, etc.

The AIS transponder costs 20,000 rupees, not all fishermen can afford it.

The Indian Space Research Organization has come up with a space-based transponder that allows signals from boats to reach shore and also transmit distress messages such as cyclones.

Tests were conducted to track vessels less than 20 meters. The tracking device was first installed on a small patrol boat in Mumbai and then tested on a fishing vessel. Both were successful. Another pilot project was conducted with a small number of fishing vessels along the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

Sources say fishermen fear their activities will be recorded if they get their hands on the device.

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