A fishing vessel monitoring system (VMS) is a cost-effective tool for the successful monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of fisheries activities. VMS provides a fishery management agency with accurate and timely information about the location and activity of regulated fishing vessels.


Vessel tracking map - Click on image to enlarge

A fishing vessel monitoring system (VMS) is a programme of fisheries surveillance, in which equipment that is installed on fishing vessels provides information about the vessels’ position and activity. This is different from traditional monitoring methods, such as using surface and aerial patrols, on-board observers, logbooks or dockside interviews.

VMS programme is comprised of several Components - VMS and each participating vessels must carry a Shipboard equipment - VMS .

This shipboard electronic equipment is installed permanently on board a fishing vessel and assigned a unique identifier. Most shipboard VMS equipment types use satellite

  Communications systems - VMS systems that have an integrated Global Positioning System (GPS). The system calculates the unit’s position and sends a data report to shoreside users. The standard data report includes the VMS unit’s unique identifier, date, time and position in latitude and longitude.

The data report is communicated between the shipboard VMS unit and the monitoring agency’s Fishery monitoring centre - VMS .

The preferred communications medium involves the use of satellite systems because the geographic coverage is greater. Satellites are not the only option, however – several tracking applications for land-based vehicles use cellular telephony or high frequency radio. Some of these other communications systems have similar reliability and security as satellite systems, and may be of lower cost, but they have less coverage. These other technologies may also have applications in nearshore fisheries and for smaller vessels.

In a satellite-based system, data reports sent from the vessel are transferred to a satellite and then on to a terrestrial, or “earth”, station. The earth station validates and stores the data, and makes them available to the monitoring agency. The fishery monitoring centre retrieves the data and stores them in a database. The identity and location of shipboard VMS units are presented on a map display, comparing vessel positions with features of interest, such as EEZ boundaries and regulated fisheries areas.

For an in-depth discussion of fishing vessel monitoring systems, please see Fishing operations. 1. Vessel monitoring systems 



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