by June 30, 2011 0 comments

A terrorist entering a country on a ship, disguised as a fisherman is so often seen in cinema. But, that mere cinematic stunt became a dark reality when a few Pakistani terrorists entered Mumbai on a fishing vessel and killed around 200 people on 26 November 2008. This new tactic used by terrorists led the union government to gear up coastal security and have a uniform mechanism to identify each and every fishing vessel operating in coastal areas.

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This led them to implement Real Craft, which is a workflow-based online application system for vessel registration to the fishing vessels working along the Indian coast. It is a national project sanctioned by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India for implementation in all coastal states and UTs.

Under Real Craft, each fishing vessel operating in the nine coastal states and four UTs is issued a unique registration number. Also, information of all fishermen is compiled and made available in a centralised database in NIC Hyderabad. Real Craft is developed under LAMP open source technology and uses Server, clients, scanners, bar code readers, UPS, laminating machines, and laser printers.

This model started way back in 2008, when Government of Kerala, disappointed with repeated cases of missing boats, lack of uniformity, multiple registrations, duplicate engines, etc decided to have a uniform system of vessel registration. Licensing is still issued under the MFR Act, since licensing rules vary from state to state. The registration of vessels gives a vessel a unique identity. NIC is also planning to issue a boarding pass to all fishermen, every time they go out into the sea. This will allow security agencies an analytical insight on the number of trips made, including the fishermen who go out frequently.

Currently, Real Craft is operating in 164 locations with 2000 trained officials working in nine states and four union-territories and has brought about details of around 3 lakhs fishing vessels into one national database. It has helped coastal security agencies in uniquely identifying and monitoring the fishing vessels in the sea, keeping at bay illegal, unregistered and unreported activities. Real Craft improves coastal security, fishermen security, and ensures benefits such as kerosene and petrol subsidy along with insurance to fishermen.

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The project also guarantees security for our fishermen. For instance if any of our fisherman is arrested and detained by Pakistani authorities, we can step in on the basis of information on our database and seek his release.

The officials who are involved in the process can easily handle the registration cases as it is developed on the basis of the official work flow. Since, it is a web-based application, officials can access the application even after office time, thus avoiding delay.

People who benefit from the project include fishing vessel owners, security agencies like coast guard, navy, coastal police; fisheries department and related agencies of 9 coastal states and 4 UTs; Merchantile Marine Department; MPEDA; insurance agencies, and state and union ministries.

The registration certificate has a barcode mechanism, which helps the security agencies to trace the history of fishing vessels. It provides an online facility where vessel owners can stay updated about the status of submitted application. Recording of details of crew members venturing into sea for fishing will be clubbed with this system in the immediate future. This will further strengthen the arms of costal security agencies.

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