The¬†State Government of Kerala, India, will issue tamper-proof biometric identity cards to seafaring fishermen in the¬†state.
The measure is intended to defend the mainland against infiltration by seaborne terrorists or¬†pirates.
In the first phase of the project, the¬†Kerala unit of the National Informatics Centre (NIC)¬†will issue 800 fishermen in the state with machine-readable biometric cards. The project is slated to begin in September, and will eventually be expanded to include 300,000¬†fishermen.
The government will provide post authorities at harbours and authorised landing centres with card readers, linked to a central server. Officers will record details of boats and biometrically verify their declared crew before permitting the vessels to go out to¬†sea.
To incentivise boat owners and crew to get the identity cards, the government will issue sea-accident insurance only to vessels that follow this¬†procedure.
The¬†NIC¬†already has a national database of 300,000 registered fishing vessels. Of these, 25000 operate from Kerala. The¬†NIC¬†will also be replacing the registration certificates of these vessels with smart cards, which can be read by law enforcement officers patrolling the¬†seas.
Officers can obtain boat information, such as outstanding fines or legal history, crew details and equipment on-board, either by using handheld devices to read the smart cards, or by sending the registration number to a central server through¬†SMS.
The government is also developing a digitised map of India‚Äôs seaboard to help maritime security agencies and police officials monitor the real-time location of fishing vessels. Officials can send messages to protect Indian vessels from entering foreign waters, and coordinate sea rescue missions¬†better.