All fishing boats to have VHF equipment

The State government has launched a major initiative to provide very high frequency (VHF) wireless communication devices for fishing boats.

It would be a boon to fishermen, who could avail themselves of these communication devices at 90 per cent subsidy, official sources in the Department of Fisheries told
The Hindu
here on Monday.

It would help fishermen at sea to exchange communication. More importantly, any fishermen in distress at sea or with a stranded boat could use the VHF system to communicate with fellow fishermen sailing in other boats to get them rescued.

They could also seek emergency help either from Coastal Security Group or Indian Coast Guard personnel through helpline at times of distress.

The project is implemented through Fisheries Management for Sustainable Livelihoods (FIMSUL) and applications are being issued for availing the device.

After conducting a survey, sites for installation of towers had been selected at two locations along the coast at Keela Vaipar and Kayalpattinam to ensure uninterrupted coverage, the sources said.

Communication through this system could reach up to 25 nautical miles from the shore, they added.

Though the VHF system is equipped in all mechanised fishing boats, they are absent in country craft, which is relied on by traditional fishermen.

Hailing the initiative, S. Xavier Vas, president, Tuticorin Mechanised Boat Owners’ Association, said that it would also help them in avoiding conflicts arising over fishing nets at sea. With exchange of communication, fishermen on board vessels could be asked to avoid damaging the nets.

Around 400 mechanised boats over 4, 500 country boats are engaged in fishing in the district.

Commandant A. Athinarayanan, Commanding Officer, ICG, Tuticorin Station, said fishermen at sea could also pass information about any suspicious movement of boats or ships through such devices to act against them swiftly.

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