Vessel monitoring system/VMS by nation

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
VMS by nation [?]
More information relevant to Vessel monitoring system.

While regional VMS is discussed in the main article, this page deals with the specifics of national use of VMS, rather than their overall approach to fisheries management.


The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources demands the consensus of its 24 member countries for any proposals to be implemented. At its annual meeting in Hobart over the past two weeks, Argentina could not be persuaded to approve the adoption of a centralised system to monitor pirate ships.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment, Sharman Stone, says Argentina was suspicious of the technology. "Argentina was concerned that we couldn't guarantee the confidentiality of any system, now the technical requirements of such a system were agreed that this wasn't beyond anyone's technical ability and capacity, but unfortunately Argentina remained concerned about the confidentiality of the data," she said.

However, the commission has agreed that Australia and the United States will head up a trial of the centralised vessel monitoring system over the coming season. [1]


Australia has both national and state programs [2]. At the national level is the Australia Fisheries Management Agency (AFMA) [3]. VMS runs on about 500 (growth expected to 800) vessels from small 10-meter scallop boats to 850-meter deep sea trawlers.

Fisheries of interest include orange roughy, scallops, prawns, tuna and billfish. AFMA type-approves VMS devices.

South Australia

There is a regional organization of South Australian states, [4], which monitors rock lobster, giant crab, and, on a sampling basis, aquaculture.


Since 2001, Canada has mandated VMS, for vessels of certain sizes, to fish for specific species in designated areas. The underlying MCS strategies, while differing in specific fisheries, are based on limited entry licensing, with restrictions on vessel and gear types. Canada expects VMS reports every two hours.

Canadian activities involving VMS are joint between the Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) and the Department of National Defense (DND) [5]. DND is the lead department for an inter-Departmental web-based mapping application, supported by positional information from DFO.

DND provides non-VMS surveillance data to a DND-operated data base available to DFO for fisheries management. Aerial surveillance, using a variety of sensors, monitors freighters, tankers, bulk carriers and container ships as well as fishing vessels.

Canada intends to provide, in real time, VMS data, correlated with other sensors and database information, to patrol vessels and aircraft. Electronic logs, two-way communication with fishing vessels, issuing orders, and possibly placing video and other sensors on fishing.


Chile has VMS aboard approximately 500 vessels, each vessel being associated with one fishery. [6]

Marimsys built the Chilean VMS [7]. Chile went from a government-specified VMS to a type-approval system for VMS units in an open market, which drove down costs.

Monitored industrial fishing boats limit fishing activities to 5 nmi from the coast of Chile. This leaves the 5 nm zone for “artisanal” or smaller fishing boats and limits excessive fishing effort being applied to inshore waters.

Chile also pioneered in the emission of reports at short intervals. Prior systems had focussed on “where is the vessel” with the provision of hourly reporting. The Chilean system, by dropping the minimum report interval to 8 minutes is capable of determining “what” the vessel is doing. When e a series of circular positions, e all at speeds of below 2 knots and reflect the drift of the current—there is no question, that vessel was purse seining, and the printout of the chart can be shown to the court to demonstrate the fact.

Chile is currently the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon and has a burgeoning mussel culture industry that is supplying a growing world market. [8] Other fisheries of interest include alfonsino, anchovies, cod, cuttlefish, hake, mackerel, ray, sardines, sea bream, squid, and swordfish.

The system is also used to monitor foreign vessels entering and leaving both the EEZ and Chilean ports.


China has national and provincial VMS programs, the most active being for Taiwan [9].

It uses both Inmarsat-C and Argos to monitor up to 1200 vessels.


Denmark has a nation-wide VMS based on Inmarsat-C transceivers owned and maintained by the authorities. The VMS software is vTrack [10]. The system monitors 600 vessels.


Ecuador uses VMS for tuna, under the Association of Tuna Fishing Companies of Ecuador (ATUNEC).


Estonia has a nation-wide VMS based on Inmarsat-C hardware and vTrack software. The system monitors 50 vessels.

Falklands Islands

The Falklands have a VMS program for approximately 30 vessels worldwide. There is a monitoring requirement for all vessels in the squid fishery.

Faeroe Islands

Faeroe Islands has a nation-wide VMS based on Inmarsat-C hardware and vTrack software. The system monitors 150 vessels.


Implementing its FMC at the CROSS sea rescue center at Etel, France uses the flag state principle described under Norway. The MAR-GE unit is a self-contained GPS and Argos device. France expects 2-hour reporting.


The German VMS is based on Inmarsat-C transceivers. The VMS software is vTrack [11]. The system monitors 300 vessels.


Greenland VMS is based on Argos/CLS and Inmarsat-C transceivers. The VMS software is vTrack [12]. The system monitors 100 vessels.


Iceland [13] uses VMS for both safety and fisheries compliance, monitoring with Inmarsat-C or a coastal VHF repeater system. Approximately 1600 vessels of all sizes are monitored. Thales VMS has been approved.


India is introducing VMS for its EEZ, along with a system of permits to control capacity. [14]


The Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries selected Argos for their VMS. Indonesia's VMS system is the largest, or among the largest, in the world. 1500 fishing vessels initially with VMS, with three ashore FMCs. A distinctive feature of the Indonesian system is that an initial 15 patrol boats can directly receive VMS information.


The Irish VMS system is operated by the Irish Naval Service, based in County Cork. As well as monitoring Irish vessels, the VMS exchanges data with VMS systems operated by other EU states.


A framework for groundfish fisheries in the Northwest Pacific's high seas was established in January 2007 in a consultation involving Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States. [15] VMS will be used to collect data.


Lithuania has a nation-wide VMS based on Inmarsat-C hardware and vTrack software. The system monitors 50 vessels.


Malaysia uses VMS on it's Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency patrol boats and also on larger fishing vessels, through the Fisheries Department.


Malta monitors approximately 60 vessels. [16]


Under current Mexican law, it is illegal for commercial boats like longliners and drift gillnetters,to take fish reserved for sports fishing within fifty miles (93 km) of the coast in the Sea of Cortez, and any fish within 12 nmi of the Revillagigedo Islands. VMS is seen as the only way Mexico will to enforce controls on areas in its EEZ. [17]


Morocco are currently implementing a VMS system combining satellite tracking and radar correlation, supplied primarily by BlueFinger Ltd.


The fisheries in Namibia are among the largest in Africa, with some of the most sophisticated MCS systems.

VMS is fully operational and has been implemented across many fishing fleets. Following an EU funded MCS program for the SADC region, Namibia has facilities to integrate its VMS data with that of other SADC partners so that information can be shared regarding vessels that operate across the border in another SADC states waters. Similarly, Namibia can receive VMS information from its SADC partners when a vessel from another SADC state enters its waters.

The observer program has been effective. Nevertheless, it may be appropriate, initially for the orange roughy fishery.

New Zealand

New Zealand has been running VMS since April 1994, with coverage out to the EEZ border under national and state agencies, with a target of 1000 vessels reporting every 2 hours. National & State Fisheries Agencies are responsible for the management of Fisheries located within its EEZ. Vessels use either Argos or Inmarsat-C to report position every 2 hours


Norway requires VMS aboard all of its fishing vessels longer than 24 meters. Norway has established such a centre at the Directorate of Fisheries in Bergen. Norway currently has mutual tracking agreements with the EU, Russia, Iceland, the Faeroe Islands and Greenland. [18]


When Panama joined the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in 1998, in response to an ICCAT embargo on bluefin tuna, it committed to require licensing and equipping deep sea fishing vessels aith the Argo ELSA VMS. [19]


Peru uses VMS to manage its anchovy fishery. For Peru fishing is a prime source of foreign exchange, second only to mining. Over 1000 fishing vessels are tracked in Peruvian waters by Argos. The Peruvian government implemented a national fishing Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) in 1998 to monitor and track all fishing vessels in its Exclusive Economic Zone. One of the first major VMS system's in the world, the system continues to operate today and is a reference for other countries wishing to implement similar fisheries management capabilities.

The country’s anchovy fishing fleet, which seeks the Peruvian anchovy Engraulis ringens, is the world’s largest single-species fishery, with an average of 8% of global landings. [20].

For research, safety and monitoring purposes, vessels have the statutory obligation to use VMS, with industrial-scale fishing prohibited within 5 nautical miles (9 km) from the coast.


The Russian Federation [21] has an integrated system called SSM, for fisheries monitoring surveillance and control and has implemented a sectoral system for monitoring of the aquatic living resources, and for surveillance and control over the activities of the fishing vessels (SSM). SSM includes VMS monitoring of vessel positions.

SSM headquarters is in Moscow, with regional monitoring centers in Murmansk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. The national system covers approximately 3800 vessels. Bilateral agreements exist with Faroes, Greenland Iceland, Japan, and Norway. Russia participates in the NAFO, NEAFC, and CCALMR multinational agreements. It regards SSM as integral to safety of navigation and SOLAS. Russia has bilateral agreements with Japan. AMS builds a Russian VMS.

Kamchatka Region

This covers the Pacific Ocean and the eastern Arctic Sector.

Murmansk Region

The Murmansk region covers Russian vessels in the Atlantic Ocean, the Azov, Black and Caspian Sea regions, and the western Arctic Sector/


The Netherlands has a nation-wide VMS based on Inmarsat-C hardware and vTrack software. The system monitors 500 vessels.

South Africa

Fisheries management, including limited VMS, is under the Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) organization in the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. [22] Hake Merluccius spp.) trawl fishery is the mainstay of South Africa's fishing industry, and the center of regulatory efforts. On-board observers had been the mainstay of monitoring, rather than VMS.

VMS is aboard many vessels with reporting to an FMC in Cape Town that is equipped with BlueFinger's VMS software. Additional VMS will go onto vessels into more distant waters, such as hake longliners. VMS is seen as a management, a research, and a safety tool. [23] South Africa is exploring correlating its VMS with:

  • RadarSat off Prince Edward Island, possibly in lieu of patrol vessels there,
  • Airborne Radar#Synthetic Aperture Radar for quick-look surveillance and coverage out to the edge of the EEZ.
  • Coastrad, a system of linked coastal radars for monitoring specific vessels, as verifying that foreign fishing vessels conducting innocent passage do that, rather than fish
  • Patrol vessels to back up all other sensors.

South Korea

The Korean Squid Fishing Association has 102 fishing vessels which are to be equipped with an Argos satellite transmitter for their fishing campaigns in Russia.


CLS/Argos is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Farming and Fisheries, and was initially deployed on over 80 vessels.

United Kingdom

The Marine Fisheries Agency[24], Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency[25] and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development[26] jointly direct VMS, currently using the BlueFinger VMS supporting mostly Thrane & Thrane compliant transponders. As well as monitoring UK vessels, the VMS exchanges data with VMS systems operated by other EU states. The VMS data is also used by patrol vessels, under direction of the appropriate agency, to enforce EEZ exclusion & quotas on fishing activities.

United States

In the U.S., national fisheries management is under the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Fisheries Service. There may also be state fisheries regulators.

Nationally-defined Fisheries VMS

At the national level, the goals include:

  • Days at sea
  • Electronic logbooks (at-sea catch reporting of species of interest)
  • Area closures based on total allowable catch
  • Spatial analysis of catch
  • Measure compliance with restricted fishing areas, both domestic and international
  • Area-specific quota management
  • Measure compliance with EEZ boundaries by foreign vessels operating under settlement conditions
Northeast Region

This region consists of the Northeast Region includes marine waters off U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina. Approximately 600 vessels are under VMS, with growth expected to 2500.

NOAA Atlantic fisheries area where VMS must be used

VMS, operational since 1998, has been a significant tool in detecting trespass into closed areas by scallop and multispecies vessels, Days-at-Sea (DAS) violations, and fish landings that exceed trip limits (particularly in the cod and general category scallop fisheries). Numerous catch seizures and closed area violation prosecutions have been made solely from VMS data.

VMS is a basic tool in calculating DAS for the multispecies or DAS fisheries. Whenever a VMS fails to transmit an hourly function, it will be charged a DAS, unless the preponderance of evidence demonstrates that the failure to transmit was due to an unavoidable malfunction or disruption of the transmission, or was not at sea.

Fisheries of interest include:

  • Scallop (dredge)
  • Northeast multispecies (trawl, gillnet, hook gear)
  • Monkfish (trawl, gillnet)
  • Herring (trawl)
  • Cod
Southeast Region

The Southeast Region includes marine waters off U.S. states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, as well as US waters around Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Fisheries monitored by VMS

  • Rock shrimp endorsement holders (trawl)
  • Highly Migratory Species, or HMS (pelagic longline)
  • Shark (gillnet and bottom longline gear)
  • Penalty fleet (vessels subject to VMS monitoring as a penalty for violating fisheries regulations)
  • Reef fish

269 vessels monitored by VMS

Skymate VMS is not approved for reef fish.


The Northwest Region includes marine waters off U.S. states of Washington, Oregon and California.

  • Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs): large-scale depth-based areas for stock preservation
  • Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs): areas of previous overfishing
  • Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area (YRCA): for another overfished species

The Pacific Coast vessel monitoring program consists of declaration reports and a vessel monitoring system. The declaration reports must be filed leaving port, and must identify:

  • the vessel operator’s intent to fish within an RCA,
  • the gear type will be used for fishing,
  • the fishery they are participating in.

Declaration reports are only necessary for fisheries that are allowed within a closed area and before a vessel intends to fish.


Salmon-related issues remain the priority.


Argos CLS is approved in this region.

Pacific Islands

Argos and Inmarsat-C are approved. The Pacific Islands Region includes waters around U.S. islands of Hawaii, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Wake Island, Midway Island, Howland and Baker Islands, Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll, Johnston Island and Jarvis Island. Approximately 200 vessels have VMS.

  • Pelagic longline
  • Northwestern Hawaiian Islands lobster trap
  • American Samoa alia (small vessel longline, pilot project)
  • Tuna purse seine (operating under South Pacific Tuna Treaty)
  • Krill trawl (operating under CCAMLR)
  • Foreign longline, pole and line (operating according to terms of court-ordered settlement agreements resulting from violations of US fishery law)

Highly migratory species in multiple regions

The VMS for HMS consists of both the mobile transceiver unit placed on the vessel and the communications service provider that supplies the wireless link between the unit on the vessel and the shoreside data user.

In the HMS Fisheries, the vessel owner is required to procure both VMS components. The two VMS components may, or may not, be provided by a single vendor. Thus, the vessel owner may need to procure the mobile transceiver unit and the mobile communications service separately.

VMS transmit vessel information primarily via INMARSAT satellites. They receive time and position data from the GPS constellation.


The authorities are the Maritime Authority, Dirección de Marina Mercante (DIMAR), and the Fishery Authority, Dirección Nacional de Recursos Pesqueros (DINARA). [27] [28] Uruguay licenses vessels for:

  1. Hake Merluccius hubbsi on the continental shelf of the Uruguayan-Argentinean Common Fishing Zone in depth more than 50 meters
  2. white croaker Micropogonias furnieri and sea trout Cynoscion guatucupa, fishing in the coastal zone less than 50 meters depth in the La Plata River and the Uruguayan-Argentinean common fishing zone
  3. Various vessels different from 1 and 2, that can fish in Uruguayan waters.
  4. Various vessels that fish in international waters. At present these vessels are fishing in FAO statistical area 41, CCAMLR 88.1 and 48.3, and the Pacific Ocean.