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The requirements for a fishing vessel to participate in a VMS programme, i.e. to carry and operate shipboard VMS equipment that sends data reports to one or several management authorities, may be expressed at several levels:

  • In national (including provincial, state or local) VMS programmes, requirements are enacted in domestic rules or laws that apply throughout a country, or to specific geographic or administrative areas of that country.

  • In international (regional) agreements, the VMS requirements may be described in the international management instrument (e.g. treaty or convention). The actual implementation, however, is typically at the national level. That is, a State that is a member of an international agreement must often enact domestic legislation that affects individuals of that State, often including legal entities other than natural persons.

VMS requirements are most often linked to fishing permits, vessel registries, or other mechanisms that convey the authorization to participate in a particular fishery or geographic area.

Requirements for VMS participation are complimentary in nature – they are enacted to assist a management agency in monitoring compliance with other requirements. That is, the regulations that pertain to the installation, operation and maintenance of shipboard VMS equipment are in place to ensure the successful implementation of measures that control fishing activities related to time (e.g. fishing seasons, days at sea, etc.) or area (e.g. closed areas, EEZ or treaty boundaries, etc.).

FAO maintains a comprehensive and up-to-date computerized legislative database (FAOLEX) of national laws and regulations on food, agriculture and renewable natural resources, including legislation on fisheries. Users of the database have direct access to the abstracts and indexing information about each text, as well as to the full text of most legislation contained in the database. FAOLEX is found at:FAOLEX.FAO also maintains a database on general coastal State requirements for foreign fishing (FISHLEX).For a comprehensive discussion of VMS and legislation, please see:Cacaud, P. 1999. Report of a Regional Workshop on Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terengganu, 29 June-3 July 1998 Supplement 2. Technical Papers. Report of a Regional Workshop on Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance, Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terenganu, Malaysia, 29 June-3 July 1998, Supplement 2, GCP/INT/648/NOR, FAO.




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