Low cost device for ocean state forecast and mapping potential fishing zones launched
For seamless and effective dissemination of emergency information and communication on disaster warnings, Potential Fishing Zones (PFZ), and Ocean State Forecasts (OSF) to fishermen, the Union Government recently launched the Gagan Enabled Mariner’s Instrument for Navigation and Information (GEMINI) device. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony in New Delhi, Union Minister for Earth Sciences, Science & Technology and Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said “The satellite based communication is the only suitable solution for the dissemination of such emergency information, and affordable satellite based communication system should be made part of the dissemination chain to deal with cyclones, high waves, and tsunamis.”
While PFZ Advisories provide information on the probable locations on fish aggregation in the seas, OSF provides the accurate state of the ocean. The Minister pointed out that “Ocean State Forecasts include the forecasts on winds, waves, ocean currents, water temperature, etc. every 6 hrs daily for next five days helping fishermen in maximizing their earnings, ensuring safety and in the planning of fishing activities”.
Though the advisories and forecasts are disseminated through multiple communication modes, none of them could provide such information, including the disaster warnings, when the fishermen move away from the coast beyond 10-12 km (typical ranges of mobile phones and VHF). That remained a major limitation in disseminating the information to fishermen who go in the sea beyond 50 nautical miles, sometimes up to 300 nautical miles and beyond to conduct multiday fishing.
This lacuna was severely felt during the Ockhi cyclone in 2017 when fishermen went for deep-sea fishing before the onset of the cyclone and could not be informed about the developing cyclone. This communication gap resulted in the loss of life, serious injuries to those rescued, and severe damages to fishing boats and fishing gear.
To overcome this difficulty, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) joined hands with Airports Authority of India (AAI) to utilize the GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) satellite system to transmit the PFZ, OSF and disaster warnings to fishermen with GAGAN system consisting of three geosynchronous satellites (GSAT-8, GSAT-10 and GSAT-15). GAGAN foot-print covers the entire Indian Ocean round the clock. To receive the messages transmitted through the GAGAN satellites, INCOIS together with AAI, developed a low-cost GAGAN system-enabled GEMINI (GAGAN Enabled Mariner's Instrument for Navigation and Information) device and electronically designed and manufactured by a private industry M/S Acord, Bangalore under Make in India Program. The GEMINI device receives and transfers the data received from GAGAN satellite/s to a mobile through Bluetooth communication. A mobile application developed by INCOIS decodes and displays the information in nine regional languages.
On occasion, Dr. Harsh Vardhan also inaugurated the PFZ forecasts, newly developed by INCOIS, which will provide advisories on PFZ to fishermen three days in advance. The Minister stated, “PFZ advisories have become part of the value chain of the fishing community, over six lakh fishermen are regularly accessing advisories directly through their mobiles to avoid the wastage of time for searching shoals of fish.” The PFZ forecasts are generated using numerical models operationalized by INCOIS and helps overcome the operational difficulties in providing the PFZ advisories during overcast skies based on satellite data.