Tools, technology and entitlements: sea safety is theme of World Fisheries Day at Poompuhar

Sea Safety was the focus of the ‘World Fisheries Day’ event at MSSRF’s Fish for All Centre, Poompuhar, in the presence of representatives from the Fisheries department, Coastal Security Police, Indian Coast Guard, panchayat leaders and fishers from three districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Supported by Qualcomm and in partnership with INCOIS and communities, the event on November 21, focused on sensitizing fishers on importance of sea safety amidst changing climatic conditions and to demonstrate various sea safety tools and technologies to minimize their risks.

The program titled, ‘Sea safety and Risk reduction measures for Small Scale Marine Fishers’ had participation of 100 fishers from three districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The sessions included ‘Sea safety and first aid equipment in boats’,a demonstration from Indian Coast Guard from Karaikal Station, ‘Role of Fisher friend mobile application for risk reduction and securing livelihoods of small-scale fishers’ done by MSSRF and screening of an awareness video ‘Life Float’ developed by Bay of Bengal Program, Chennai.

Mr K Jeevanantham, IPS, Additional Superintendent of Police – Coastal Marine Security Police, who was the chief guest for the event, gave several case studies on how fishers should be more cautious and engage in safe fishing. He emphasized on the importance of toilet facilities and of how this had even caused several accidental deaths. “Fishers should keep all safety equipment and identity documents with them, while venturing into sea women should ensure this with their family members.” He also provide a brief background to the Wildlife Protection Act of India and emphasized on fishers needing to keep always themselves away from illegal handling of protected species at sea to avoid any unnecessary events.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Anirban Mukerjee, Senior Manager Qualcomm India, who connected online, highlighted the journey of the Fisher Friend Mobile Application (FFMA) developed by MSSRF with support of Qualcomm. This app has been playing an important role in safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of the fishers connected with it. He also appreciated the efforts of stakeholders like INCOIS – Hyderabad, Fishermen Cooperative Societies, associations, NGOs, academic and research organizations and members in different states of India for upscaling the FFMA.

Dy. Commandant. Mr N Raja from the Indian Coast Guard, emphasised the safety of fisherfolk at sea while fishing and also demonstrated use of safety kits.

Mr Kaviyarasan, Deputy Director of Fisheries Department – Karaikal, highlighted the state and central govt. schemes available for enabling toilet facilities for boats and asked fishers to make use of the subsidies given to build the same to practice hygiene and safe fishing.

Dr S Velvizhi, Head and Principal Scientist of the FFA Centre, highlighted the importance of the sea safety and risk reduction measures to be followed by every marine fisher.

The Traditional Panchayat Leaders from fishing villages, Mr K Jambulingam, Mr R Sivaperumal and Mr K Balaiya appreciated efforts made by MSSRF to secure lives and livelihoods of fishers nationwide and also informed that there will be fullcooperation and supports from everyone for interventions made for betterment of fishers.

The event had voices of the fishermen who are all active users of FFMA, shared their experiences and encouraged others also to use the mobile application and its features for safe and secured fishing.

During the event, 40 small scale fishers received life buoy sea-safety tool kits from MSSRF and Qualcomm Communications along with a demonstration on safety and usage of these tool kits.

Written by: S Velvizhi, Deepak Ramaiyan

Edited by: Jayashree B