The Hindu , 13 July 2006

Formulate sea safety policy, Government urged

CHENNAI: A State level workshop on sea safety has asked the government to ensure minimum safety standards are adhered to by fishing vessels.

It called for the government to draw up a sea safety policy in consultations with the fishing community and experts in the area.

The workshop recommended that designs of boats be standardised and safety features like lifeboats, rations and other equipments along with a safety kit be incorporated.

Fishermen, who were part of the deliberations, said they would welcome any move to increase safety measures but it should fit within their budget.

Financial support

Every day a few boats fail to return necessitating search and rescue by the local fishermen panchayats. This was a big item of expenditure. The fishermen said that they would also require financial or material support for stocking the safety material on board. The inability to communicate with any vessel in the vicinity due to the near lack of communication equipment was another handicap faced by them.

The fishermen said they were not very confident of the weather reports and ventured out even when the Meteorological department predicted rains and rough weather.

They also wanted some sort of financial assistance during the 45-day May-June break and during the monsoon.

The workshop, organised by the State Government, the United Nations Development Programme, South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies and the Tamil Nadu Tsunami Resource Centre, aimed at disseminating the results of a sea safety project and sensitising government and NGOs on the measures available for enhancing safety on small boats.

Special Commissioner for Fisheries Mohan Verghese Chunkath and Officer on Special Duty, Relief and Rehabilitation C.V. Shankar said that the certification of boats would be looked at closely.

On the issue of grant during the non-fishing period, Mr. Chunkath said giving relief could be explored after consulting with the government.

Mr. Shankar said there had been a great interest in fishermen issues post-tsunami.

Outstanding problems would be taken up for discussions at appropriate levels in the government so that solutions could be worked out.