In order to strengthen surveillance along the coastal areas and the islands in the Sunderbans, the Indian Navy has asked all the fishermen to install Automatic Identification System (AIS) tracking device in their vessels.
It has been learnt that if a fishing boat is not equipped with AIS tracking, it will be treated as suspicious. The main purpose of the project is to ensure proper surveillance over the remote islands in the Sundarbans and the fishing community has been instructed to implement the order and failing to do so, they will not be allowed to operate their boats in the area.
A senior official of the Indian Navy in Bengal said that all boats, trawlers and ships have been instructed to install the AIS through which the Naval officials can track and identity the boats at the click of a button on the software. According to an official, the tracking device will transmit data and every details relating to the boats to the Navy. The Navy will be able to track the vessels through satellites, images from aircraft and other vessels. It will be able to track every movement of the ships. Once this system is introduced it would become easier for the Navy to check trafficking, smuggling of drugs and cattle and unregulated fishing. Navy is increasing its aerial surveillance in coastal areas as the terrorists often use waterways.
“If we are unable to trace a boat through the AIS it will be marked as suspicious. It does not necessarily mean that we will seize the boat. We will just go there and investigate if everything is all right. Fishing crews are supposed to check the identity cards and biometric cards of the fishermen and their boats whenever they are in the sea,” an official said.
It was learnt that two softwares – Trigun and Avgaah will be used which will help the Navy to screen ships by analyzing crucial data like its latitude, longitude position, nationality of the crew, last and next port of call. The Navy has also prepared a digital mapping of coastal villages based on a Geographic Information System (GIS). The data will also help Naval officials to carry out a rescue operations in case of any natural calamity.
It often becomes difficult for the Navy or Coast Guard to track a fishing boat during a storm in the sea. There are 102 islands in the Sundarbans delta, out of which 42 are uninhabited. In Bengal the coastline stretches around 260-km.