Fisheries Minister Avertano Furtado has expressed the need for procurement of patrolling vessels to maintain vigil at the seas as patrolling of the coastal waters has become a subject of concern in the event of newly evolved techniques of fishing including the use of LED lights. During the budget session last month, the minister had stated in the House that a strict vigil will be maintained at the sea to ensure that no illegality is carried out by fishermen. However, the department has only one vessel for patrolling the 300-km coastline with a jurisdiction of 12 nautical miles in the sea waters. In addition, the vessel has six technical staff but no dedicated fisheries officer. Furtado informed this daily that the department is in need of atleast one more vessel for patrolling the waters. “We have a proposal to procure atleast one more vessel. I do not know whether more are possible at this point of time but surely we will try to get one more vessel at the earliest, he said. He further said that the help of coastal police has been sought for surveillance over the sea waters under the state jurisdiction. While the coastal police is entrusted with maintaining vigil on the blue territorial region of the state, their jurisdiction has been earmarked only upto five nautical miles. The fishing trawlers venture well beyond their reach. An official of the fisheries department said that the major concern while venturing out on patrolling is safety of the staff. While the fishermen on the fishing boats are equipped with swords, the patrol vessel is accompanied by police constable, who possesses only a lathi and is unarmed. Recalling an incident during a patrolling exercise, the officer said that the patrol vessel was surrounded by around 12 fishing trawlers sensing danger. “When the officer was identified by some known faces of the fishermen crew, the safety of the patrolling vessel was ensured and there was no untoward incident, the officer said. Stating that well-equipped boats and better mechanisms are needed to deal with the situation, the officer further said that patrolling is not just about enforcing law but also ensuring safety and security of the fishermen at sea. With the sole patrol vessel with the department, round-the-clock patrolling is physically not possible. On the other hand, the department is not provided with dedicated staff for patrolling the seas. Sources said that the fisheries department is drawing a proposal to demand recruitment of staff for the enforcement wing within the department, in whose absence the wing is almost defunct. Under the state police department, seven coastal police stations are currently functional, though largely understaffed. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs provides the coastal police stations with two variants of patrol boats, 5-tonne and 12-tonne, for the purpose of coastal security. 2011