The Union Fisheries department will soon roll out a vessel communication and monitoring system for the fisheries sector that will, among other things, strengthen existing arrangements for fishermen’s safety, boost conservation efforts, help better data collection through use of digital logbooks and support marketing of catch with real-time information on market prices.

The vessel communication and support system in marine fishing vessels is expected to be rolled out by March, say Union Fisheries department sources. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed transponders for two-way communication with indigenous research and development efforts using GSAT-6 satellite to cover the entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ ) up to 200 nautical miles.

The new facility will be made available to one lakh mechanised fishing boats at no expenses to the fishermen. The total cost of the project is over ₹364 crore, of which 60% will come from the Union government and the remaining 40% from the State government, the sources add. The ISRO has transferred the technology to Indian industries for manufacturing transponders. The technology is 100% indigenous barring a chip which is being imported as it is not manufactured in India. Earlier, 4,997 transponders were sanctioned under Blue Revolution for Tamil Nadu with a 100% Government of India fund of ₹18 crore in 2019.

A total of 2,745 transponders were supplied and 1,629 were installed in seven districts of Tamil Nadu (Chennai, Cuddalore, Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam, Thoothukudi, Chinnamuttom and Thengapattinam) and remaining 2,252 are expected to be installed by March 2024.

Earth station, data centre

The new system is being launched under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana to cover all the nine coastal States and four Union Territories. The national rollout also includes setting up of an earth station and a data centre at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, Hyderabad, a control station at the Fishery Survey of India Headquarters, Mumbai, and another at the Department of Fisheries, New Delhi. Parallely, 73 monitoring stations will be set up at various locations in all the nine coastal States and four UTs for effective coordination.

The Fisheries department feels that installation of transponders will be a boon to the fishermen as the device will disseminate information on weather, cyclone updates, information on potential fishing zones and alerts on international maritime border line crossing.

Further, the device will also enable two-way communication, by which the fishermen can establish communication to the shore from the deep sea. Teams have visited six coastal States to understand the structure of fishing vessels and other aspects of the boats for seamless execution. Visit of teams in all other States will be completed by February 2024. Bulk production clearance will be given on validation of prototypes by the ISRO by February 2024.