Monday, August 22, 2011


A Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) relates to fisheries management systems.  It allows environmental and fisheries regulatory organizations to monitor to time, position, course and speed of fishing vessels.  There are also programmes to record the catch.  The VMS is used to monitor fishing vessels in a Nation's Territorial Waters and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which extend a maximum of 200 nautical miles from a Nation's coastline.  For Nations whose coastlines are closer than 2000 miles an agreed distance usually at mid-point is mutually agreed to under International Treaty.

Chart with area status marked
VMS uses different technologies and handles commercially sensitive information discreetly.  It is therefore different from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) although VMS may assist vessels with safety of navigation, hazardous material spills and search and rescue.

VMS is used to monitor the movement of fishing vessels with a Permit to fish in restricted areas.  A vessel may transit through a Restricted Area without fishing or may not be allowed in the area at all. 

The vessel may or may not report its catch however under European Union (EU) fishing rules the vessel is required to report the following data:
  • Catch on Entry
  • Weekly catch
  • Transshipments
  • Port of Landing
  • Catch on Exit
Expansion of the system in the EU will automate collection of catch data, and exchange data between EU Nations.  Programmes are available to track days at sea (DAS) for a given vessel and the total cumlative catch for a given fishery.

Clearly the VMS is the technology used by fisheries enforcement in addition to boardings and inspections at sea.  In this VMS, AIS and VTS are all used controlled from a Fisheries Management Centre (FMC).   In the EU the National FMC's work in partnership exchanging data to develop the overall fisheries status.

Good Watch.

Please remember the 800 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates off the Coast of Somalia.  Also on the Coast of West Africa pirates attacks are occuring with increasing frequency.

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