India tapping satellite technology to improve weather warning, fishing aid systems

Indian Secretary of the Department of Agricultural Research and Education and Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Trilochan Mohapatra is urging the scientific community in his country to  create technology to help the country’s fishermen, including better weather forecasting systems and more accurate fish-finding devices.

Mohapatra spoke at the second international symposium of the Societal Applications in Fisheries and Aquaculture using Remote Sensing Imagery (SAFARI). The event, organized by India’s Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), is part of the institute’s mission to tap India’s satellite technology to improve the yields and efficiency of the country’s marine fisheries sector. 

Safety at sea was a major topic of discussion at the forum, which was held in the wake of Cyclone Ockhi, which caused widespread damages to fishing communities in India and Sri Lanka in November 2017, and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of fishermen.  After the storm, there were widespread complaints that fishermen did not receive advance notice of the deteriorating weather situation. 

Those in attendance at the meeting, including fishermen and scientists involved in marine fisheries research, ocean studies, space research, and communications also discussed a token system to account for the exact number of fishermen and fishing boats out at sea at any given time.

Remote-sensing techniques could effectively be used to develop better weather warning systems and inform fishermen when it’s best to fish, Mohapatra said at the meeting.

Along those lines, CMFRI announced a new collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organization that will forecast and identify Potential Fishing Zones – areas where fish are found in abundance. The project, named “SAMUDRA,” is aimed at helping fishermen easily locate shoals of fish without wasting time and fuel, according to a CMFRI press release.

The collaborative effort will focus on developing and running a satellite-based ocean forecasting model to provide PFZ advisories to Indian fishermen, the institute said. 


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