7:09 AM

Indian Navy advises fishermen to fix GPS

In the context of firing Indian fishermen are coming under in the Indian ocean, the Indian Navy has advised that the fishermen should fix Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to avoid crossing the maritime boundary. It (GPS) is not very costly and is affordable, the naval advisory says. GPS provides the fastest and most accurate method to navigate, measure speed and determine location for fishermen.

The Tamil Nadu government is working on a pilot project to equip fishermen with country boats in Ramanathapuram district with handheld GPS devices.

The Naval advisory assumes significance as fishermen particularly of Rameswaram area went on a strike and received local political backing over alleged firing on their vessels by Sri Lanka Navy.

'They (Lankan Navy) never cross into our (Indian) territory", a senior naval officer based in Tamil Nadu was quoted as saying by India's premier news agency, PTI. The agency report which was widely covered said the Indian Naval officer, Commodore P E Van Halteren denied July 25 the allegations that the Sri Lankan Navy was straying into Indian waters and firing at Indian fishermen.

This certificate lends credence to reports that LTTE was targeting Indian fishermen with a view to divert attention from its own operations in the area.

Any how, as Halteren reportedly said, the fact of the matter is Indian fishermen sail too close to Sri Lankan maritime boundary, particularly at night with a view to have a better catch. And at night time it is difficult for Lanka navy to differentiate between fishermen and the LTTE, according to the Indian Naval official. So his advisory to the Indian fishermen is: 'It would be better if our fishermen do not cross the International Maritime Boundary Line and enter their (Lanka) territory'.

'If the fishermen carry GPS with them, it would warn them when they crossed the maritime boundary', Commodore Halteren was quoted as saying. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is easy to use and it is affordable, he said and suggested that awareness should be created among fishermen about its usage.

About 18,000 boats of various types are engaged in fishing, and it is not possible for the navy or coast guard to provide protection to every boat. The Naval official said this much when he remarked, 'It is very difficult for us to guard each and every fisherman when they venture into sea. Our duty is to just check whether any boat or ships are involved in any illegal activities. However, as an extra effort, we always warn our fishermen whenever they are very close to the boundary area'.