In the wake of the Cyclone Fani warning, measures initiated by the State Fisheries Department for the safety of fishermen during Cyclone Ockhi have come into sharp focus. Several measures, including supply of satellite-based navigation system NAVIC as well as Vessel Identification System, were recommended and taken up for implementation.
A senior official of the Fisheries Department said 50 fishing boats had been supplied with the NAVIC system, which would help fishers get weather warnings even where they were out of mobile phone coverage area. Similarly, the Department has also supplied a hundred Vessel Identification Systems to fishermen in Kochi.
However, fishersâ€™ groups have criticised the tardy progress of the works being taken up. While there are around 1,400 deep sea fishing vessels based in Kochi, the distribution of safety equipment has not made much headway. The department should have been more strict in getting the fishing boats to install safety equipment, said Charles George of Matsya Thozhilalai Aikya Vedhi.
The Fisheries Department official said that he expected all boats to be fitted with safety equipment by the end of the year. Boats without the recommended safety measures would not be given licences in the future.
Kerala Boat Operatorsâ€™ Association president Joseph Kalapurakkal said weather warnings were being received by fishermen in a timely manner. However, he called for a more specific system of warning. He said the Cyclone Fani warning had forced fishermen in the State to stay on land while there appeared to be no problem in the sea off the coast of Kerala.
Mr. George said the State government had been alerted to the fact that around a hundred fishing boats that ventured out after Easter Sunday could not be informed of the cyclone. It was a clear example of the tardy progress of work to install safety equipment on fishing boats, he added.