Seafarers told how to stay safe


11-November-2011

Fishermen fitting a VMS aerial on one of their boats at the artisanal port (Photo by GT)

They have also been advised to let the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) know when they are setting out to sea because it is the SFA that monitors signals from the boats’ Vehicle Monitoring Systems (VMS).

The director general for the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration Captain Joachim Valmont repeated the advice on Wednesday when he gave an interview with Home Affairs, Environment and Transport Minister Joel Morgan, who gave updates on efforts government is making to make Seychellois and tourists safe at sea.

The advice followed the capture of fishermen Rolly Tambara and Mark Songoire by pirates on November 2.

He asked the fishermen to stay close together and to never let the batteries powering their VMS to  go flat and never to switch off the systems while at sea.

“All fishermen should have the VMS on their boats,” said Capt Valmont.

“The grid we have given them marks the areas where they have full protection through aerial surveillance and from the coastguard vessels.

“I ask them to please respect the grid and I remind them to avoid switching the VMS off because from now on the Seychelles Coast Guard will mobilise all their resources if they cannot establish contact with a Seychellois vessel. We will treat it as an emergency,” he said, adding there will be penalties for those who raise false alarm by not operating the VMS all the time.

He said fishermen tend to switch off the VMS so as not to let their colleagues know where they are fishing if there are more fish in that area.

“They do not do it for any malicious reasons but they must now avoid losing contact,” he said.

“The signals are received by the SFA but the coastguard headquarters have a repeater allowing them to maintain a 24-hour surveillance of the vessels and if any is switched off they will know automatically and take all measures to re-establish contact.
He said even hire craft also have the systems and they are equally monitored.

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