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Mobile shield for fishing Hilsa

Bengal can't do without Hilsa. Neither can Govt afford to loose fishermen in high seas. But Jadavpur Univ has a solution on hand, reports Tapan Das.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 03:36 IST
Tapan Das

Bengal cannot do without its Hilsa. And neither can the government afford to loose trawlers and fishermen in high seas.

But the Jadavpur University and the School of Oceanographic Studies have a solution on hand.

It has developed a cheap mobile telephone network that will warn them in advance about cyclones and torrential rains through high frequency radios and guide them to safe routes.

It will cover fishing boats, which have laid anchor 80 to 100 km off the coast. This mobile communication system will also help fishermen fend off attacks by pirates and bandits, which are common along the Indo-Bangla riverine stretch.

The devise is well-timed. This year, the pressure on West Bengal fishermen would be higher during the fishing season to meet the shortfall created by the ban on Hilsa export from across the border.

Bangladesh used to export nearly 500 tonnes annually, as against Bengal’s yearly requirement of over 2,500 tonnes.

The state government and fisheries department have been grappling with the problem of missing trawlers and fishermen disappearing. Several fishermen are either killed in storms or are captured by bandits during the monsoon, when they venture out into the deep sea hoping for a bigger catch.

Explaining the predicament of unfortunate fishermen Fisheries Minister Kiranmoy Nanda, “The deeper the sea, the greater the chances of netting bigger shoals.  But the waters are choppy.

As a result, fishermen who wait throughout the year for monsoon, often end up tempting their fate, causing accidents.”

It strains the state exchequer for the government is forced to compnesate the vistims’ families in cash.

Moreover, the familes of more than than 5 million fishermen across the state blame the government for doing “precious little”.

The Hilsa fishing  zone in Bengal spans the Digha-Shankarpur coast in East Midnapore, where more than 1,200 trawlers with about 25 fishermen each on board sail into the deep seas from June.