The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (Incois), Hyderabad, has launched three ocean-based specialised products/services — the Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS), the Swell Surge Forecast System (SSFS) and the Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS).

Incois, an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, provides a number of free services for users in the marine realm, including fishermen.

While SVAS is aimed at improving the operations of numerous small marine vessels, particularly fishing vessels, the SSFS forewarns the coastal population about swell waves. The coastal region experiences frequent damages caused by swell waves that originate from the distant Southern Indian Ocean.

The ABIS provides information on harmful algal blooms that are detrimental to coastal fisheries and also tend to cause respiratory problems in the coastal population.

Advisory service

The SVAS is an innovative impact-based advisory and forecast service system for small vessels operating in Indian coastal waters, said an Incois release. It warns users about potential zones where vessel overturning can take place, 10 days in advance. The advisories are valid for small vessels of beam width up to 7 m. This limit covers the fishing vessels used in all the nine coastal States and Union Territories.

The warning system is based on the Boat Safety Index (BSI) derived from wave model forecast outputs such as significant wave height, wave steepness, directional spread and the rapid development of wind at sea, which is boat-specific.

The SSFS is designed to predict the kallakkadal , or swell surge, that occurs along the Indian coast, particularly the West. These are flashflood events that take place without any noticeable advance change in local winds or any other apparent signature in the coastal environment. Kallakkadal is a colloquial term used by Kerala fishermen to refer to the ‘freaky’ flooding episodes. Since most people mistake these for tsunamis, the SSFS will be useful, said the release.

The ABIS tracks the increasing frequency of algal blooms, a major concern due to its ill-effects on fishery, marine life and water quality. This service helps fishermen, marine fishery resource managers, researchers, ecologists and environmentalists.

The service also complements Incois’ marine fishing advisories and provides near-real time information on the spatio-temporal occurrence and spread of phytoplankton blooms over the North Indian Ocean.