In the wake of frequent collisions between mercantile vessels and fishing boats, endangering the lives of fishers, the Kerala Malsyathozhilali Aikya Vedi has urged the government to ensure that the code of conduct put forth by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is complied with by vessels passing through the territory.
Vedi leaders allege that the code is followed more in the breach and ship captains do not bother to inform the Coast Guard while passing through the territory. They complain that the ships are not keen to follow the mandatory warning signs on noticing fishing boats or other objects on the vessel’s channel.
Vedi president Charles George says the Joint Operation Centre, under the control of the Coast Guard in Kochi, that coordinates maritime rescue operations, is keeping itself detached from the fishermen community. “In case of an emergency, fishermen now approach the centre through other influential channels,” he says.
Mr. George says the Mercantile Marine Department, which is supposed to investigate ship-boat collisions, is remaining idle. “Even after three days of the latest collision off the Beypore coast that claimed the lives of four persons, the department has got no clue about the ship involved in the incident,” he said.
As per the data of the Fisheries Department, Kerala has witnessed nine cases of ship-fishing boat collisions in the past 10 years. During the term, there were cases in which the identity of international ships involved in such collisions had remained untracked.
According to organisations of fishermen, investigation to track such ‘criminals’ is still at a nascent stage though Kerala lost 54 fishermen in such incidents in the past seven years.
The Beypore coastal police that registered the first information report in the latest incident say they are yet to get any information on the ship involved in the collision.
Meanwhile, a senior Coast Guard official told The Hindu that the names of some of the ships that passed through the location at the time of the accident have been handed over to the Fisheries Department as per a directive of the Fisheries Minister. Further action on the basis of the complaints would be taken up by the Director General of Shipping.