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Tata Teleservices ‘ ‘fish finder’ plan to cover coastal India

Ahmedabad, Nov 18(IANS) Tata Teleservices Limited (TTL) is planning to commercially launch and expand its ‘fish finder’ project across coastal India early 2011 to help low-end fishermen in coastal areas.

Initially launched as a community service pilot project, it involves the use of mobile phones to home in on fish-rich areas in the sea to help fisherman increase their catch.

The success of the project has prompted Tata Teleservices to launch it commercially and tap the business potential offered by coastal India.

‘Fish finder’ was launched over two years ago at Virampattinam and Machhilipattinam in the tsunami-hit districts of Tamil Nadu as well as in Kerala and Puducherry.

The project involved providing low-end mobile phones to about 150 fishermen who generally use catamarans and fish in an area of about 8 km from the coast, Rajeev Narayan, Tata Teleservices senior vice-president for corporate affairs, told IANS.

‘Through these mobiles we provided them a host of services that helped them reap economic benefits as well as ensure security while at sea,’ he added.

According to Narayan, these fishermen who had lost their near and dear ones in the 2004 tsunami were so traumatised that they were scared to go out fishing and had lost their livelihood.

Additionally the post-tsunami aid also created problems of plenty as there were more boats than fishermen willing to go out to sea in many of the villages.

‘It was some of these poor fishermen that we identified and decided to help through our Corporate Social Responsibility project,’ Narayan added.

For the project, Tata Teleservices tied up with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, the Indian Centre for Oceanographic Studies, Mumbai, the Indian Metereological Society(IMS) and Qualcom.

Realtime satellite imagery was used to track phytoplanktons, underwater seaplants which grow rapidly and are the favourite of small fishes which in turn attract larger ones.

Narayan said that catamarans generally fish within an area of around 8 km from the coastline, which is the approximate range of mobile phones in field condition, though test lab conditions put it at 25 km.

‘The mobiles guide fishermen to the nearest marine fish concentration. They also provide other data like wind velocity, wave heights, weather and warnings. The easy-to-use software is available on the mobile in the four south Indian languages, besides Oriya and Bengali,’ he added.

He said the project will be commercially launched in phases, beginning from around March next year, to eventually cover the areas along the entire 8,100 km coastline of India.

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