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Indian Satellite Data Remote To Help Local Tuna Fishermen

Thanks to satellite technology pinpointing chlorophyll presence, Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and water clarity in the ocean, the emerging Tuna fishing industry in the country is all set to exploit the huge commercial potential offered by the fast migrating fish.

While the fishermen used to return empty-handed most of the times during Tuna fishing in the past, their fortunes have improved since the beginning of 2009 as the catch of Tuna fish had increased by 70 per cent to 80 per cent along the long coastline from Kolkata in the East to Gujarat in the West.

Following a request from Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and Tuna long lining fishing industry, the Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has developed Tuna Fishery Forecast System (TUFFS) using remote sensing techniques and started providing satellite images to the industry on the lines of Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) adivsories being issued by it.

According to T. Srinivasa Kumar, Head, advisory services and satellite oceanography, INCOIS, Tuna fish are highly migratory, prefer certain range of temperature, clear water conditions and productive zones. These conditions could be identified using the satellite images. He said that because of its fast-moving nature, it was important to know the changing dynamics of oceanography. With fishermen preferring information on delineated zones for Tuna Fishery similar to PFZ maps, INCOIS has urged Tuna long lining fishing community to give geo-referenced fish catch details and associated environmental conditions to fine-tune TUFFS.

Talking to The Hindu on telephone from Kochi, Kuruvilla Thomas, director marketing, MPEDA and officer in-charge for development of Tuna fishing industry in India, said as a result of the information provided by INCOIS, around 35,000 tons of tunas worth around Rs.160 crore were exported this year. He said that MPEDA had started a scheme for assisting the conversion of existing fishing vessels to Tuna long-liners and so far 225 vessels were converted. He said finding the exact location of the fish was a major problem for fishermen and the information provided b INCOIS was very helpful. MPEDA has targeted to increase the annual exports to around 900,000 tons in the next two to three years and convert 900 fishing vessels into long-liners.