THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Government is planning to set up a control room in Thiruvananthapuram for coordinating the VHF-based tracking of fishing vessels using Automatic Identification System (AIS).
The Fisheries and Ports Department recently issued orders re-constituting the task force which the government had formed in March this year for studying the feasibility of the project.
Hundreds of fishing craft go out to the sea from the numerous harbours along the 590-km Kerala coast. Even though vigil was stepped up following the Mumbai terrors attacks, tracking the fishing craft exiting or entering the harbours is a tough job. In 2012, the Centre launched a project to install AIS sensors atop 74 lighthouses along the Indian coast. The State Government project will complement this initiative. Vessels rigged with AIS transponders can be tracked by stations along the coast - in this case, the control room in Thiruvananthapuram - and identified.
In addition to helping step up vigil against possible infiltration from the sea, such systems can also help to prevent Enrica Lexie-like incidents.
“Discussions are on regarding the establishment of a control room in Thiruvananthapuram,” Dr P Ambady, Managing Director, Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation (KSCADC), and convener of the task force said. As per a government order dated August 28, the task force is mandated to “look into the aspects of setting up of control room in Thiruvananthapuram, procurement of equipment,training and implementation of said scheme.”
The task force headed by the Fisheries director has as its members a representative each from the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, the Deputy Director of Ports, Deputy Director-General of Lighthouses and Lightships, Kochi; Deputy Director Fisheries, SP of the Marine Enforcement and Vigilance Wing, the project manager of KSCADC, and MD of KSCADC as its convener.