‘Top priority to fishermen’s safety’

Special Correspondent

ISRO-designed transmitter sends out signals that can be accessed by the Coast Guard

Due importance is also being given to providing education to children of fishermen

VIJAYAWADA: Efforts are on to ensure that every one of the 26,000 marine fishing boats registered in the State have a Distress Alert Transmitter (DAT), according to Fisheries Commissioner Arvind Kumar.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Last Mile Connectivity’ organised for fishermen by the Sanghamitra Service Society in association with the Department of Fisheries and several multinational agencies here on Wednesday, Mr. Kumar said that utmost importance was being given to safety of fishermen.

While cellular phones would not be very effective when fishermen move away from the coast, the DATs designed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), when activated, would send out a distress signal that could be received directly by the Coast Guard.

Mr. Kumar said DATs were distributed to fishing boat owners in Visakhapatnam recently and these would be distributed at Machilipatnam in February.

Out of the 26,000 boats, nearly 20,000 were non-motorised country boats. Under the Bay of Bengal Programme (BOBP) of the United Nations, due importance was being given to the safety of fishermen who go out into the open sea for fishing.

Out of the three types of boats – mechanised, motorised and non-motorised – all the mechanised boats were registered under the Marine Fishing Regulation Act. The same was not the case with non-motorised boats. But in a special drive taken up in the wake of attack on Mumbai by the terrorists who came in through the sea, 98 per cent of the boats had been registered, Mr. Kumar said. The Government of India would provide to fishermen an identity card that would be uniform all over the country. Central agencies had been entrusted with the task of providing the ID cards and ECIL given the responsibility in the State.

The Commissioner said the Marine Fishing Regulation Act also made it mandatory for boat owners to maintain a first-aid box and other safety equipment on the boat. He said the State Government was trying to focus on providing education to children of fishermen. As per the Human Development Index, fishermen were very backward with literacy levels being as low as 20.5 per cent.

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