Delay in issuing online registration and biometric cards by the State Fisheries Department is giving an uncertain time to the fishing industry.

The Government of India has directed the States to adhere to uniform unique colour code, biometric cards, and online registration to beef up coastal security following terror attacks in Mumbai.

In all, 29 fishing trawlers belonging to the Association of Indian Fishery Industries (AIFI) were not able to venture into the sea from the fishing harbour here for want of online registration though the fishing season commenced on Saturday.

All the nine maritime States and four Union Territories were given different unique colour codes to facilitate easy identification of the boats by the Navy, Coast Guard, and Maritime Police. Accordingly, yellow was allotted for fishing vessels in Andhra Pradesh.

The Merchant Shipping Act envisages that all the fishing boats with less than 20 metres in length shall have unique online single registration by the authorised Registrar of Fishing Boats as published through gazette notification by the Ministry of Shipping.

The Fisheries Development Officer is the authorised registrar for registration of fishing boats in Visakhapatnam.

Sources in the industry told The Hindu that the Fisheries Development Officer received 1,450 applications from mechanised and non-mechanised boats. Sources said that some of the online registration certificates issued so far were messed up with goof-ups, not tallying with the original dimensions of the boat, the name and address of owners, and type of fishing.

When contacted, AIFI president Y.G.K. Murti said: “Unfortunately, the online registration for some of the pending applications has not been completed by the Fisheries Department and 29 fishing boats belonging to our association are held up in the fishing harbour in Visakhapatnam.”

He said though the ban period was over, they were unable to send their boats for fishing for not having online registration certificates. According to him, some of the boats are issued double registration.

Stating that they were not interested to send their vessels without online registration, he said, for the loss suffered by them due to delay by the State Fisheries Department, they should be duly compensated.

As there is not much progress in issuing uniform biometric cards, the boat operators are seeking acceptance of Aadhaar cards as unique identity cards.

As of now, not even 30 per cent of fishermen have been given biometric cards.

“We urge the authorities to accept Aadhaar, voter’s identity card, or driving licence as identity proof till issuance of biometric cards,” said Dolphin Boat Operators’ Welfare Association president Ch. Satyanarayana Murthy.

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