FAO Home>Fisheries & Aquaculture
FAO of the UN

Regional organization

  • Contracting Parties: Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), Estonia*, European Union, Iceland, Norway, Poland*, Russian Federation.

    * joined the EU in May 2004, but have expressed their intention to denounce the Convention


Fisheries monitored by VMS

  • All fisheries taking place on the high seas of the Regulatory Area, in waters beyond national jurisdiction:
    • Bottom trawl
    • Pelagic trawl
    • Purse seiners
    • Longliners
    • Gill-netters


Number of vessels by fishery monitored by VMS

  • Total (2004) fishing for any species: 1 473
  • Authorized to fish for Regulated Resources: 800


Vessel size range

  • Any vessel 24 m overall length (or 20 m PP) which fish, or plan to fish, in the Regulatory Area.


Purpose of VMS monitoring

  • To provide real time information regarding fishing vessel operations to NEAFC inspectors carrying out surveillance in the Regulatory Area according to the NEAFC Scheme of Control and Enforcement.
  • NEAFC is the “second user” of VMS information. Data are transmitted from the vessels to their flag State Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC). Data concerning fishing vessels operating in the Regulatory Area are then re-transmitted from the flag State in real time to NEAFC.
  • At present, the NEAFC Secretariat control centre has permanent links with 19 national FMCs (Germany, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, France, Faroe Islands, United Kingdom, Greenland, Ireland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Sweden, European Commission and, occasionally in the past, Japan and New Zealand).


Security measures

  • Imposed by flag States


Legal framework

  • Rules are implemented by Contracting Parties according to their different legal frameworks, based on NEAFC’s “Recommendation on a Scheme of Control and Enforcement in respect of fishing vessels fishing in area beyond the limits of national fisheries jurisdiction in the Convention Area”.


Funding strategy

  • Fishing vessel operators fund shipboard equipment and communications costs.
  • National FMCs are funded by flag State authorities, or the European Community.
  • NEAFC’s Secretariat Control Centre is funded through the organisation’s annual budget.


Staffing level

  • 1.5 full time equivalent (full-time VMS IT & Statistics Manager, and part-time IT Assistant)
  • Recently NEAFC’s Contracting Parties established the “Advisory Group for Data Communications” (replacing the Ad Hoc Working Group on Computerisation) that will assist the organisation, its Contracting Parties, and any other organisation seeking advice on VMS issues and automated data transmission.


Additional integrated programmes

  • Other than the position messages transmitted by the VMS equipment, fishing vessels are also required under the Scheme (if targeting regulated resources) to forward “catch on entry”, “weekly catch”, “transshipment”, “port of landing” and “catch on exit”’ reports.
  • Based on the VMS, surveillance craft also transmit directly to the database “surveillance entry”, “observations”, “prepare for inspection” and “surveillance exit” messages.
  • NEAFC participated as an observer in IMPAST (Improving Fisheries Monitoring By Integrating Passive and Active Satellite Technologies), a project funded by the EU to use satellite radar images to validate VMS information and to complement and optimise surveillance tasks. As a result, a developing Vessel Detection System (VDS) will be adopted by several coastal States to improve their surveillance tasks.
  • NEAFC is a partner in SHEEL (Secure and Harmonized European Electronic Logbook), a project funded by EU to define common grounds and test technical solutions to produce electronic logbooks that will allow fishing vessel operators to easily produce and transmit data. It will eventually also allow monitoring authorities to cross-check data in real time and make timely decisions on surveillance operations or fisheries management.
  • NEAFC will also be a partner in CEDER (Catch, Effort and Discard Estimate in Real-time) that is under evaluation for possible funding by EU.


Anticipated Growth

  • Unknown. The number of vessels operating in the Regulatory Area will probably decrease over the coming years, but the volume of data transferred within the different requirements will continue to grow at the same rate as it has in the last few years (this includes VMS and other type of messages):
    • 2001, over 103,000 messages
    • 2002, over 142,000 messages
    • 2003, over 205,000 messages
    • 2004, over 304,000 messages


North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission
22 Berners St
United Kingdom
Telephone: (+44) 20 7631 0016
Fax: (+44) 20 7636 9225
send an email
Web site: http://www.neafc.org


Powered by FIGIS