KOCHI: The sinking of a fishing vessel in the shipping channel between Fort Kochi and Vypeen points to the urgent requirement of verification of fitness of fishing boats.According to Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal, general secretary of the All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators, there is no competent authority in Kerala to verify the fitness of fishing vessels. Earlier it was the state Department of Ports that issued fitness certificate to fishing boats after inspection by experts. Around 10 years ago, the Department of Fisheries took over this responsibility. The Department of Fisheries, or any agency under it, have technical experts who can check the seaworthiness of the vessel. Inspection is now carried out by the clerical staff who do not even know how to measure the length of a boat. There should be a competent authority to check the fitness," he said.
Any obstacle in the shipping channel can cause disruption in sailing/ berthing of ships at Cochin Port. Further, it will affect operations of the Navy, Coast Guard and the Cochin Shipyard.
The channel is also the lifeline for other organisations as well. If the movement of ships is affected, it is going to have an adverse impact on the business sector.Meanwhile, the Port Trust and Naval authorities said no operation was hit on Tuesday.
"Problems are likely if the sunken ship is not salvaged soon," said Port authorities. The fishing vessel was being towed into the harbour violating the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code by another fishing vessel. ''The hydrographic survey team of Cochin Port is carrying out surveys in the area to locate the wreck and determine the safe depths in the channel. The position of the sunken vessel has been identified by the surveyors of the Port Trust. "The assistance of the Navy has also been sought. Once the location of the wreck is established, the same will be marked with a buoy,'' they said