Recent events in India have brought into sharp focus the urgent need for better communication systems between seafarers and land-based services, especially in times of distress. Cyclone Ockhi at the end of 2017 caused havoc in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, taking hundreds of lives. In particular, many fisherfolk were completely cut off from rescue services, rendering assistance nigh-on impossible. Unsurprisingly, the response from the community was impassioned.
Among other initiatives, responsible agencies in India have responded by exploring technological advances including, just last week, investigating the use of SAT phones for the fishing community to allow them to stay connected even when 150-250 km off the shore. While admitting that 15,000 such phones are needed, this first proposal from the Fisheries Department seeks to procure 1,000.
The Indian authorities are tackling a problem that has been rising in prominence in recent years. NLAI was pleased to speak last week with a range of organisations exploring what can be done to improve safety for the fishing community, convened by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation.
Their recent insight report analysing safety in the fishing industry set out the charity’s stall on what will come next – more research, targeted training and exploration of the application of relevant technologies.
NLAI is particularly interested in this last theme, and we are – as ever – encouraged by the range of relevant approaches we found in our database of emerging technologies.
As is to be expected, a number of technology approaches are becoming apparent, some still emerging from the concept phase, others undergoing trials. These include the following initiatives:
Other initiatives – ostensibly focused on solving other problems in the fishing industry – also have relevance, including:
India’s CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography in India are using satellite imagery and underwater gadgets to forecast – nearly one month in advance – about locations of shoals of fish in sea waters. Knowing where fish may be found in abundance could improve fleet deployment planning and reduce the need for more speculative excursions, perhaps in rough seas.
The themes we can begin to see emerging from these and other approaches include:
We look forward to more engagement in this area. If you know of a technology or initiative that you would like to bring to our attention, please get in touch!