The Beidou navigation satellite system will help establish a security system to protect fishermen in Hainan province, industry insiders said.
Qi Chengye, manager of the engineering technology center of BDStar Navigation, a company that provides the Beidou service to 80 percent of China's fishing vessels, said that BDS mainly provides instant alarms and unique short messaging services, as well as positioning devices for fishing vessels.
"The alarm button installed in the client terminals enables fishermen to instantly report emergencies to fishery departments," Qi said.
"The vessel management system based on BDS can also request assistance from nearby vessels, which will greatly help protect fishermen."
According to the Ministry of Agriculture's South China Sea fishery bureau, more than 380 conflicts between Chinese fishermen and some neighboring countries' fishery departments occurred from 1989 to 2010.
Of the more than 750 fishing vessels and 11,300 fishermen involved in the conflicts, 25 people died or vanished and more than 800 were jailed.
"Compared with the GPS developed by the United States, which allows customers only to receive messages, the BDS short messaging service enables customers to send texts on the high seas where there is no cellphone signal," said Qi. "The cost of each text will be less than one yuan (16 US cents), which is much cheaper than making satellite phone calls."
"The Chinese government is giving large subsidies to encourage fishermen to install BDS," Qi said.
"The government pays for most of the cost of the client terminals, and gives fishermen diesel subsidies according to the distance and frequency of their vessels heading out to sea."
But Qi said that there still remains room for improvement with the current BDS weather forecasting service.
According to BDStar Navigation, China has about 310,000 marine fishing vessels and 8 million people engaged in fishing.
By December 2013, more than 50,000 fishing vessels in China had been equipped with BDS terminals, according to Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office.
"Five experimental satellites will be deployed before 2015 to help establish global coverage to provide better services," said Sun Jiadong, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and chief designer of BDS.
According to Sun, the 16 navigation satellites that have been sent include two experimental ones.
"The 14 satellites, sent from 2007 to 2012, operate well and enable BDS to work for pelagic fishing and in areas with complicated landforms," Sun said.
In May, the Ministry of Transport's Beihai Navigation Safety Administration announced that a major breakthrough had been made in the marine application of BDS, with positioning accuracy improved to one meter.
It said that the Beidou Radio Beacon-Differential Beidou Navigation Satellite System, or RBN-DBDS, is an augmentation system that improves the positioning accuracy of BDS by broadcasting differential corrections to Beidou receivers in the medium frequency radio beacon band (285-325 kHz), according to Xinhua News Agency.
The RBN-DBDS system can be applied in sailing, marine exploration and rescue, as well as maritime charting and monitoring.