The Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG) has completed installation of a new Indian-made coastal radar system which the government said will be used to protect its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) against maritime crimes and monitor external threats to the island nation’s maritime boundaries.
According to the Seychelles News Agency, the new surveillance system was commissioned into service by Foreign Affairs Minister Joel Morgan in Victoria in a ceremony on 21 March that was attended by Indian defence minister Rao Inderjit Singh and commanders from the Indian Navy, the SCG and the Seychelles People’s Defence Force (SPDF.
It was ordered from India’s Bharat Electronics. Morgan said the maritime surveillance system has for the first time given the SCG and SPDF the ability to monitor all ship movements transiting through the country’s territorial waters while maintaining surveillance to prevent maritime crimes within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“This new surveillance system will allow us to coordinate better our response to any illegal, unreported and unlicensed fishing activities in our EEZ and ensure that merchant and shipping traffic respect their areas of navigation while transiting our waters,” said Morgan.
From a central station located at the SCG headquarters in Victoria, the coastal radar surveillance system coordinates six individual radar surveillance stations set up on five different sites with two on Assumption and one each on Alphonse, Farquhar, Astove and the main island Mahe.
“The centre, based here in Victoria, is where all the maritime surveillance information comes in. It is a system which continuously gathers maritime information. We also receive contact from boats transmitted automatically when they pass our region, especially near Aldabra, which is a very sensitive area,” said SCG commander Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Benoiton.
“If there are irregularities, we raise the respective boat on radio or aerial communication and we question them on their whereabouts. It also helps us to identify boats which do not have the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and we use the cameras to zoom in and see exactly who they are and decide accordingly,” he said.
The setting up of the surveillance system in the Seychelles is part of a broader Indian Navy plan to roll out 18 coastal surveillance radar systems at strategic points throughout the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The IOR coastal radar surveillance network gained momentum in March 2015 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured Mauritius and the Seychelles and offered extensive defence assistance packages which include the delivery of aircraft and patrol boats to strengthen the navies of its two key allies.
According to Modi, the Indian Navy is setting up 32 coastal surveillance radar (CSR) stations in the Seychelles, the Maldives, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.