The way Ashim has been fishing for 35 years near the coast of Puducherry has now changed. Now before leaving the sea, he takes out his phone and logs it into an Android app. He said, ‘After the 2004 tsunami, we were able to catch a much smaller amount of fish than before. The movement of the fish was difficult to trace.
These days, fishermen know where they can find fish. They get this information from the Fisher Friends Mobile Application (FFMA). This app provides accurate data about the location of the fish as well as the height of the waves and wind speed.
The app was developed in 2013 by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in association with Qualcomm and TCS. It is used by families of about 10,000 fishermen in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala. In the app, the movement information of fish is updated every 24 hours. It also mentions coral reefs and submerged shipwrecks such as the Danger Zone. Information such as wind speed and wave height are also updated every 6 hours.
Fishermen say that with the help of the app, they are catching more fish. This has increased their earnings. “I used to catch 6 to 10 tonnes of tuna earlier, but with the help of the app, I can catch up to 20 tonnes,” said Alex, a fisherman from Chennai. Fishermen said that their travel time and expenses have also been reduced with the app.
The Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, tracks everything related to the sea, from tsunami hazards to waves forecasting. It takes satellite images and sends them to MSSRF, which processes the information received from the image and uploads it to the app. Fishermen use the app’s data to decide which route they want to use to catch fish before going to sea.
Anirban Mukherjee, Senior Manager (Government Affairs), Qualcomm, said, “We have also helped MSSRF to train fishermen about the use of this Android app.” Another important feature of this app is an alarm, which starts ringing when the boat approaches the international water boundary.
Indian fishermen on the Sri Lankan border near Tamil Nadu are at risk of being arrested. The Sri Lankan Navy has also opened fire on Indian fishermen in some cases when they come within their range. Now fishermen can easily avoid such risks by using this app.