Indian State to use Biometrics to Protect Marine Borders

By Sumedha Jalote

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’s 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.


Original Article