KOCHI: Precious lives are lost at sea while sea safety kits distributed among fishermen by the Fisheries Department are gathering dust. A top officer of the department said the fisherfolk’s reluctance and disinterest in using the life-saving accessories painted a scary picture. Fisheries Department (Ernakulam Zone) deputy director S Mahesh said they always insisted on the use of life-saving kits to deal with any eventuality at sea. Though the department distributed the kits, many members of the fishing fraternity didn’t bother to use it.
“The kits distributed to avert accidents and to alert rescue services seem to have gone down the drain,” he said. During inspections, it was found most of the fishermen did not keep the kits on the boats. Some packets were not even opened, the officer said. Each kit contains a GPS-supported radio beacon, heliograph, radar reflector, medicines, light units and life jackets.
The radar reflector can deflect signals sent by bigger ships, helping them detect boats from a distance.Fishermen said most of them were in the dark when it came to using the equipment.
Although classes were held to explain its use, very few attended them. There have been instances when fishermen accidentally pressed the button of the radio beacon, sending a distress signal to the Coast Guard.