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Gujarat fishermen get a little help from ISRO
Anil Nair in Ahmedabad | November 24, 2006 10:30 IST
Fishermen from Gujarat who till now navigated the seas using nothing but instinct, may soon have technology to aid them. A satellite-aided tracking system is being developed indigenously to be fitted on their trawlers.
Being developed by scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation at Ahmedabad, the low-cost 'vessel monitoring system' is expected to be fitted in fishing trawlers that would be linked via satellite with the coast guard, senior coast guard officials said.
"The VMS is being develped by ISRO to help the coast guard keep a track of fishermen's trawlers. This low cost tracking device will be useful to monitor their movement during a hurricane, tsunami and even if they stray into international seas," Gujarat coast guard commandant G C Raj told PTI.
The coast guard officials said the trial of the VMS was yet to be conducted.
"The VMS should be ready by 2007. We will conduct a trial after that. As of now, even its pricing has not been decided," another coast guard official supervising the crucial project said.
The vessel monitoring will be done through the coast guard's earth station located in coastal Porbandar district and via the INSAT satellite of ISRO, the offical said.
Veljibhai Masani, president of the All-Gujarat Fishermen's Association, told PTI that the propelled project would benefit the fishemen if it was a low-cost one.
"Setting up such a monitoring system is very beneficial for the fishermen as they get lost in the sea and are caught mainly by Pakistani officials very often. If the device is a low cost one then it is even better," Masani said.
He said that after preliminary talks about such a project he had begun an awarness campaign among the fishermen to install monitoring devices when the government came up with the proposal.
There are 18,000 fishing trawlers and over 10,000 small fishing boats along the 1,600 km coastline of Gujarat, which is the largest in the country.
As of now, there are over 500 Indian fishermen, mainly from Gujarat, who are languishing in Pakistani jails after they strayed into the territorial waters of that country.
The overall fishing industry in Guajrat is worth nearly Rs 2,000 crores with exports crossing Rs 900 crores this year.
More than seven lakh tonne of fish are caught from the Gujarat coastline annually, of which one lakh tonnes is exported.