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Anti-piracy tracking devices for fishing vessels -MARAD

Commander John Flores

The Maritime Administration Department’s (MARAD) Director of Maritime Safety, Captain John Flores has issued a warning to would-be pirates.

He said the regulatory agency would be implementing an Automatic Identification System (AIS) to track vessels plying Guyana’s waterways.

According to Flores, in the event of a piracy attack, a distress signal will be sent to any of MARAD’s maritime safety centres who will provide an exact location to the coast guard and police. This he noted will allow for speedier response times. “I am excited about this new system because the police and the coast guard will be able to respond faster. As of now, their response is reactive,” government’s Department of Public Information quoted Flores as saying.

The Director noted that the new system which specifically targets fishermen has already been tested and is awaiting approval from the relevant authorities for implementation.

“This new system will roll out in early 2020. It is not mandatory that each vessel equips themselves with the new system. The Automatic Identification System (AIS) will be available countrywide and we will be working along with the Ministry of Public Telecommunications to make it mandatory in the future because this is the only way we can effectively tackle piracy and save lives,” Captain Flores stated.

He explained that in the interim, the safety centres are using a radio communication system which employs very high frequency (VHF) and high frequency (HF) communication. Flores noted that while this system is used mainly on commercial vessels, all other vessels can receive the radio distress signals.