Evaluation of prospects to expand Rolta’s business in Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) domain

Research report on "Evaluation of prospects to expand Rolta’s business in Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) domain".



After approximate 8 years of Mumbai terror attacks, the Indian government has taken the decision to install highly efficient tracking devices and identification chips for small fishing vessels (The Hindu, 2017). This initiative will be completely taken care by the Government and the fishermen do not have to invest for such. This is done to monitor the movement and to reduce the security threat along the vast coastline of India. For the purpose of this paper, we would identify the specifications of AIS, and understand the international guidelines and regulations pertaining to such. Based on this we would recommend whether it is a viable option for Roltas to get involved in the procedure or not a profitable initiative.

Fishing Vessels & Automatic Identification System

Fishing vessels are typically defined as boats or ships used in catching fish in rivers, seas or lakes. Catching of fishes can be for commercial purposes, artisanal purposes as well as recreational as well, hence, different kinds of vessels are involved in the process. In India, fishing is a major industry in especially the coastal states, and employs over 14 million people. As per the data received in 2015, the country exported over 10, 50,000 metric tonnes to more than 75 countries globally. Hence, the number of fishing vessels operating in India is a significant number. As per the data of early 1990s, the Indian fishing fleet consisted of 180,000 traditional boats which were powered by sails or oars, and 26,000 traditional motorized craft boats and more than 34,000 mechanized boats (FAO, 2018). The numbers have changed drastically in the last 2 decades with the proportion of mechanized and motorized boats increasing in proportion to the traditional boats. 
The key coastal states of India are all involved in fishing, and deploys fishing fleet in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. Individually each state has their own maritime and coastal vigilance teams. In order to keep the Indian Ocean safe and secured for an effective socio economic development the IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) has assigned the MSS as the top priority (Stewart, 2008). The Maritime Safety and Security can be promoted by a host of activities, but special importance has been given to the installation of AIS in the Indian fishing fleet. AIS is an automated and autonomous system used for exchange of navigation related information between equipped vessels and the stations in the store using specific messages and operating on two marine VHF channels designed for the purpose. The main benefit of installing AIS in one’s vessel is that it creates a way more situational awareness by getting knowledge about collision avoidance and about presence of foreign and unauthorized vessels. 
Post the terrorist attack in India, as a part of security measures, Government of India has made it mandatory for all fishing vessels over 20 metres long to have in place a high technology AIS transponders. And registration of all fishing vessels irrespective of their size is also to be done under the Merchant Fishing Act. 

Benefits & Customization of AIS

The automatic identification system or AIS, is a tracking system which displays the location and presence of other vessels in the nearby vicinity. It has a system of broadcast transponder which operates on the VHF band of mobile maritime. The key benefits of such a system is it will help in improving the coastal security measures and enable the shore authorities to know about the presence of any foreign unidentified or otherwise vessel in the vicinity. Along with this, collisions can be majorly prevented as vessels having AIS installed will get knowledge about the relative presence of all other vessels in the locality (McGillivary, Schwehr, & Fall, 2009). 
As per a report in 2015, AIS - P was to be fitted on more than 3 lakh fishing boats, and this endeavour by the Government of India, will help in improving the network and security aspects to a great extent (Times of India, 2015). The initiative has been taken by the Indian Government only to equip all the boats with that transponder system including the ones having less than 20 metres in length. The governments of all the 13 coastal Indian states were asked to resolve the matter with individual fishermen organizations. The estimated cost for each transponder is Rs. 17,000 and the total cost of Rs. 336 crores for installation of more than 2 lakhs transponders in the small boats by the UHM or the Union Home Ministry (DNA India, 2016). This project is being looked after by the Ministry of Agriculture, and hence if the major cost is borne by the government, feasibility and affordability of the system will not be a problem for small fisheries as well. 
This project is a hugely significant project from the perspective of Rolta and it should engage in the bidding procedure by GOI when it shall occur. The sheer volume of the project is vast, and as the fishing industry is growing, the need for such AIS devices would always be in demand and on occasions of up gradation, Rolta will only be contacted. Hence, the total project of installation, servicing and maintenance is a significant order for Rolta and it should opt for it. 

Technology, International Maritime Organization Regulations etc 

As per the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) are designed with the aim of providing information about its ship to other ships and subsequently to the coastal authorities as well. The regulations for AIS are in Regulation 19 of the SOLAS in Chapter V which defines the requirements for navigational equipments and systems placed on ships.  As per the regulation, AIS is required to be borne by all ships of international voyages, the cargo ships having more than 500 gross tonnage and all the passenger ships irrespective of its sizes and carrying capabilities. This requirement became effective from December 2004. 
The second regulation is that, ships fitted with AIS should keep such navigational transponder in action all the time, except for international agreements, or standards and it calls for protection of information. The key regulations of IMO associated with AIS are – provision of information, receiving the information from other ships and lastly exchanging data with the shore authorities (IMO, 2018). 
Resolution A.917 (22) and MSC.74 (69) consists of all the specifications associated with the technical specifications, and regulations in detail about carrying of AIS in ships and other vessels. Presenting such detail in this paper, would not be possible as it would go beyond the paper’s scope and purview. 


Automatic Identification Systems

The Automatic Identification System or more commonly known as AIS is a tracking device which helps ships and shore authorities to understand the specific locations of different ships in its vicinity. AIS acts as a supplement to the marine radar system, which continues to be the main mean of collision avoidance. AIS are of two types – the vessel based AIS transponders and the Satellite based AIS (Pallotta, Vespe, & Bryan, 2013). For the purpose of this paper, vessel based AIS would be focused upon. 
As per the IMO SOLAS Agreement of 2002, vessels over 300 GT on international journeys had to be fitted with Class A AIS transponder which affected almost more than 100,000 vessels globally. In 2006 again, the standards committee introduced a low cost Class B transponder and it was large scale implemented in many vessels – on both domestic and international voyages. Since 2006, much developments and customizations have been made to fit the AIS in the largest of vessels to that of smallest of fishing boats as well as life boats (IMO, 2018). 
The main applications of AIS are in collision avoidance, fishing monitoring and control of such fleet, vessel traffic management, maritime security, navigational assistance, facilitating search and rescue operations, tracking of cargo and fleets, infrastructure protection, investigation of accidents and estimation of ocean currents etc. 

Literature Review

Regulations as per Ministry of Shipping & Ministry of Defence 

As per the Ministry of Shipping, India, the AIS is a ship to shore and a ship to ship data transmission and broadcast system. It operates on two specific frequencies – 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz. in the VHF of the marine band. The main characteristics of such AIS are that it acts as a powerful tool for obtaining a more accurate situational awareness, and hence contributes overall to the safety as well as the efficiency of the traffic management. It acts as a fundamental tool for promoting maritime security. This AIS is also considered by the Ministry of Shipping as an effective tool for VTS System. The National AIS System tracks all the SOLAS Vessels which are more than 300 GRT and also all the other vessels with a fitted AIS in the Indian water. The third frequency of the AIS can be used in tracking the fishing fleet in the coastal regions of India. The National AIS Infrastructure consists of 87 base stations, 2 CCCs and 8 RCCS along with one NDC (Ministry of Shipping, 2008). The user terminals for DG, ICG and IN shipping are for usage as well as processing of data. Lastly, a web client services and interface is present for general public. 

IMO and IALA Compliance regulations and guidelines 

The IALA, or better known as the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities is an organization founded by inter- governments and is present to collect and analyze and provide the data related to nautical expertise and subsequent advice. IALA uses the AIS to – display the traffic on radar display and electronic charts of navigation; information provision to the VTS Centres; monitor the routes which ships take including the mandatory ones as well as the recommended ones; enable the trend analysis of such AIS Data; providing data for risk analysis and planning of long term and lastly provide information related for investigations of marine accidents. As per IALA, the AIS stations communicate with one another using the scheme of TDMA or time-division multiple accesses. The data link is segregated into a number of time slots which are equal to one another and each of which holds a specific amount of data and are synchronized with one another using the GPS time. The main methods through which such AIS devices obtain the link are detailed in ITU –R M.1371 and are as follows; 
-    SOTDMA which is a self organized basic mean for mobile stations 
-    RATDMA or random access which is used by the AIS stations to access for unscheduled transmissions
-    FATDMA 8 which is used by these stations which already have a pre-requirement for transmission of data 
-    CSTDMA or the carrier sense which enables certain stations to use the links only when they find an unused slot 
There are AIS networks established in lands known as the Base Stations, which manage the entire network and is similar to that of telephone towers (IALA, 2016). 

Fishermen growth pattern in India 

The Indian fisheries and the aquaculture is one of the most significant sectors of food production and it provides the nutritional securities to the food basket and contributes to agricultural exports as well. It engages more than 14 million individuals in different activities and the range of resources varies from seas to that of lakes and rivers. The Indian fish production constitutes over 6.3% of the total global fish production, and this specific sector accounts for more than 1.1% of the national GDP and over 5.15% of the agricultural GDP. With FFDAs and BFDAS, more freshwater as well as coastal aquaculture is being promoted and presently India boasts of over 2.4 lakhs fishing craft operating in the stores, 62 small fishing harbours and 6 large ones and more than 1511 landing centres helping to meet the needs of 3.9 million individuals associated with the industry (NFDB, 2018). This data is per NFDB (National Fisheries Development Board) which was established in 2006, and as per the data, the industry is expected to witness a stable growth in the future of 7% CAGR (Ghoshal, 2015). 

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Data Analysis 

The data thus obtained from conducting the secondary research, has to be carefully analyzed in lines of Rolta’s present line of technology and specifications of AIS – P transponders. It is an established fact that Indian government would need huge volumes of AIS-P transceivers and maintenance and servicing partner, for effective function of such. This move came from the Indian government, after the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai which came through the Indian Ocean. Hence, with the fishing industry growing strong in India and showcasing a stable growth in the future, the number of fishing fleet and vessels would also be increasing in the future. This creates an untapped market potential for Rolta, and they ideally should be pursuing this project as it is feasible for them as well can prove to extremely profitable for the bottom line of the business. 


As per a report by Assocham, the marine and the fish industry of India is likely to grow at a CAGR of 7% in the future and is expected to cross Rs. 67,800 in the near future (Ghoshal, 2015). Hence, with such a projected growth figure, the number of fisherfolk is like to increase as well and this will bring about an increase in the number of their fishing vessels. After the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, India, the Government of India along with Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Shipping have made it mandatory for all fishing vessels to be fitted with an AIS-P transponder which will help in accurate tracking and safety management of unknown presence in Indian waters. It is suggested to Rolta that they bid for the tender for such AIS-P held by the Government of India, as this opportunity can prove to be extremely beneficial for the company and its sustained profitability. 


DNA India. (2016). Centre to equip all fishing boats with alert system. Delhi: DNA India.
FAO. (2018). The Republic of India. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from FAO: http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/IND/en
Ghoshal, S. (2015). Marine and fish industry to reach Rs 68K crore by 2015: Assocham . Delhi: Economic Times.
IALA. (2016). IALA - Guideline 1082 - An Overview of AIS. UN: IALA.
IMO. (2018). AIS transponders. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from International Maritime Organization: http://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/safety/navigation/pages/ais.aspx
McGillivary, P., Schwehr, K., & Fall, K. (2009, October). Enhancing AIS to improve whale ship collision avoidance and maritime security. OCEANS 2009, MTS / IEEE Biloxi - Marine Technology for our future : Global and Local Challenges , pp. 1-8.
Ministry of Shipping. (2008). Role of DGLL in Coastal and Maritime Security. Delhi: Government of India.
NFDB. (2018). National fisheries Development Board. India: NFDB.
Pallotta, G., Vespe, M., & Bryan, K. (2013). Vessel pattern knowledge discovery from AIS data - a Framework for anomaly detection and route prediction. Entropy , 15 (6), 2218 - 2245.
Stewart, H. (2008). Indian fishing - early methods on the Northwest Coast . US: D & M Publishers.
The Hindu. (2017). Govt plans transponders, identity cards for all boats. Chennai: The Hindu.
Times of India. (2015). AIS to be fitted on 26,000 fishing boats. New Delhi: Times of India.

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