SEAMLESS COMMUNICATION NETWORK FOR RAMANATHAPURAM DISTRICT FISHERMEN COMMUNITY
Fishing in India is an important occupation next to agriculture and is regarded as a powerful income and employment generator. It stimulates growth of many subsidiary industries apart from the livelihood for fishermen.
While India has a long coastline of 8118 km and is blessed with rich fisheries resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which covers 2.02 sq km. Tamil Nadu is one of the important coastal states in the east coast. The state has a coastal length of 1076 km, 13 coastal districts and 591 fishing villages.
The Government of Tamil Nadu has planned to introduce a seamless VHF radio communication system fitted with GPS receiver in the fishing crafts after details analysis of the various alternatives for fulfilling the needs described below:
- For the sea going fishing vessels safety at sea is paramount and today they do not carry any gadget.
- A marine radio VHF set is really useful to establish voice calls between the crafts and send their L/L position data to the shore station using an external GPS receiver or internal to the set at normal times and at times of crises.
- The fishing crafts need to be warned of dangers especially when they are near the International Boundary Limits (IBL) for any mistaken identity.
- The scientific data on fish catches collected by INCOIS with Geo-coordinates can be broadcast to them at regular intervals.
- Weather forecast on impending cyclone or depression or even Tsunami warnings can be sent at the best possible manner using the radio system.
- The case of missing personnel while at seas has caused serious concern to the search and rescue operations by the Coast Guard and to the Fisheries department.
Before implementing this project on a state wide basis, the Government of Tamil Nadu has decided to implement a pilot project at Ramanathapuram District in view of the following aspects:
- It has a vast sea coast of 237 km covering 96 km in Palk Strait and 141 km in Gulf of Mannar.
- There are sizable number of fishermen operating mechanized boats and traditional crafts.
- Fishermen of the district are facing problems like inclement weather conditions in the high seas, boat engine failure in the high seas, vagaries of nature and inadvertent drifting of vessels into the territorial waters beyond International Boundary Limits.
VHF seamless radio communication System Proposal
a) Shore station infrastructure:
In order to implement a radio communication system for the tracking of the fishermen while at seas the erection of towers is a pre-requisite. After a detailed study of the Ramanathapuram District Coastal area with maps and site visits by the consultant organization ELCOT it has been decided to go for erection of 50 Meter self supporting towers at 3 locations at Tondi, Pamban and Chinna Erwadi. The approximate aerial coverage using these towers will be 30-40 kms into the seas.
2 Duplex Radios for ch 80 / 81 / 82
A 25W Duplex capable base station with continuous power rating will be provided at all these 3 locations. It is proposed to use 3 pairs of duplex frequencies from the international marine band viz., Ch 80, 81 and 82 on the alternative sites to avoid over reach and interference problems. The tower sites so chosen are 40-50 kms separated and their coverage is overlapping in nature as can be seen from the line diagram enclosed.
3 Emergency Channel Watch Radio
In addition to the above duplex radio another radio tuned to listen to Ch 70 is also being provided to all these base stations for keeping a vigil on the Distress calls. Both the above radios are kept just under the foot of the tower in a separate room. The radios are connected to the 6 dB gain omni directional antennas by using Foam di-electric low loss cables. The equipment room and tower are co-located with a 5 KVA generator set in a separate room so that the power outages can be minimized.
4 Simplex Radios used for tracking
Another fixed station radio using a marine class D type will be set up in the nearby fishing office location. A department staff of Fisheries will be using these class D radio for obtaining the L/L position of the vessels at periodical intervals and maintain these in a log book. The data can be uploaded into the computer system. The control mechanism of the sea going vessels is done by issue of tokens to these boats which are collected after they return to the shore.
b) Fixed mount radios :
Nearly 1697 registered mechanized boats are in the coastal Ramanathapuram District who go for deep sea fishing usually upto 25-30kms into the seas. These boats will be provided with 25W class D radios with external GPS receivers. Normally they have to use the Ch 9 for hailing their buddies and use Ch 16 for emergency voice purposes. In addition these radios will have the Ch 80, 81 and 82 loaded and in the scan mode so that they can be easily located. These radios will provide their L/L data along with their Automatic transmission of Identity (ATIS) numbers, a feature normally available in the marine radios. These ATIS and MMSI data base will be maintained by the department of Fisheries. At time of emergency the GPS data will be given by the boats by the press of the red alert button in Ch 70 which will be responded to by the shore station personnel.
c) Portable radios :
There are 4620 registered country crafts of two types namely vallams and catamarans in the coastal Ramanathapuram District. These are provided with 5W marine grade portable radios. These radios meet Class F standards which means that Ch 70 will be on the watch in the scan list. These radios will be loaded with two simplex channels chosen from the list of International marine channels. These are apart from Ch 16 and Ch 9. While Ch 9 will be hailing channel used for call establishment, Ch 16 will be used for emergency voice. The radios are loaded with two simplex channels by a process known as cloning on the basis of the chosen site location and number of sets required. This is to ensure over reach and interference problems. In respect of the portable sets only their emergency calls on Ch 70 will be monitored in all the sore stations and not their routine calls.
d) Web Based Vehicle Tracking :
A web based vehicle tracking software is used to track the trawlers with the help of the GPS co-ordinates broad casted from the Fixed Mount Radios to the shore station. The software allows the dispatch controllers to select any desired zone and view the vessels on their respective monitors. The software provides the display of vessel location on maps, logging of vessel movements and provide the performance reports of the vessel and drivers in a spreadsheet format.
SCHEMATIC DIAGRAM / SKETCH SHOWING THE AREA OF OPERATION.