Merchant ships to inform presence of armed guards

In the incident of Italian marines onboard and an oil tanker shootout two local fishermen off Kerala coast were dead.

Mumbai: Following the incident of Italian
marines onboard an oil tanker shooting dead two local
fishermen off Kerala coast, the Directorate General of
Shipping here has issued a notice, saying that merchant
vessels should report the presence of armed guards to the Navy
or the Coast Guard.

"All merchant ships are advised to report the presence of
armed guards on board to Indian Navy or Indian Coast Guard,"
says the notice, signed by Captain Harish Khatri, Deputy
Director General of Shipping, and issued on March 7.

It also advises vessels to exercise extreme caution when
approaching within 50 nautical miles of Indian coast.

The merchant vessels should take note of dense fishing
traffic on the Indian coast, the possibility that they may be
approached by the boats for safeguarding fishing nets, and
should not mistake such fishing boats for pirate skiffs (as
happened in the Kerala incident), the notice says.

The merchant vessels are also expected to report any
suspicious craft within Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
to the Coast guard.

According to the notice, over 3 lakh fishing boats
operate off the Indian coast. "Fishing off the coast of Kerala
and Karnataka is particularly intense during the post-South
West monsoon and extends up to 50 nautical miles from the
coast," it adds.