No licensing system yet for Kerala fishing boat drivers

Over 90 per cent of the people behind fishing boat’s wheel venturing into sea from Kerala has not undergone any proficiency test to prove their capability in navigating and maneuvering the boats.

Published: 09th August 2018 02:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th August 2018 02:58 AM   |  A+A-

Sunil Das, father of 19-year-old Bipul Das who went missing, and his relatives in Munambam wait for rescue boats to return from search operations | A Sanesh

Express News Service

KOCHI: While mid-sea accidents involving fishing boats and ships turn a regular affair off the Kerala coast, there are few rules to ensure drivers of fishing trawlers are trained properly in navigation. Nor is it mandatory to possess a licence to operate them.

Over 90 per cent of the people behind fishing boat’s wheel venturing into sea from Kerala has not undergone any proficiency test to prove their capability in navigating and manoeuvring the boats.
Fisheries Department deputy director Sahadevan P said, for all these years, there were no rules specifying licence for the person navigating a fishing trawler/boat.

“The state government had amended the Kerala Marine Fishing Regulation Act in 2017 to incorporate certain changes to rules with regard to ensuring licence for fishing boat drivers.  Though the Act has been amended, the rules are yet to be finalised. The government is seriously looking to bring in the rules within next couple of months,” he said.

Opinions divided on licence

Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training (CIFNET) director A K Choudhury said, though persons navigating fishing trawlers do not require a licence now, it should be made mandatory.
“It’s up to the state government to decide,” he said.

CIFNET, he said, has been providing a two-year course in vessel navigation and marine fitting for those aspiring to work on a fishing vessel over 24 metres in length. “Currently, we run two-week training programmes for persons working on fishing trawlers. But such a short-term training will not yield the desired results as a minimum of 180 hours of training is required to make a person familiar with the procedures to be followed to handle the boat in rough seas and in case of emergency,” he said.

Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi convener Charles George said there was no need for traditional fishermen to get licences as they know the sea better than any of the experts. “Years of experience make them good navigators of boats and it’s in their blood. What they need is technological support for better communication. We also need to create awareness among the fishermen on the need to embrace technology,” he said.

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  • Xavier Lawrance

    Ship Accidents can be resolved if we have clear demarcation of the shipping routes. If you look at most of ship accidents, it happens during night when fishermen are sleeping. If there is a demarcation, fishers will stay away from that area. We help to provide solutions to avoid 4 type of accidents that can be managed.
    5 months ago reply
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