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Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels

Unique Vessel Identifier (UVI)

©FAO/José Antonio Acuna Barros / FAO

The Unique Vessel Identifier (UVI) is a global unique number that is assigned to a vessel to ensure traceability through reliable, verified and permanent identification of the vessel.

Once given, the UVI is with the vessel for its entire life, regardless of changes in flag, ownership, name or other.

It is the key component of the Global Record and it is necessary to maintain its integrity.

A study, commissioned by FAO, concluded that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Number was the most suitable UVI for Phase 1 which focuses on vessels of 100 gross tonnage, or of 24 metres in length, or above.

To date, IMO Numbers – which serve as Global Record UVIs – have been allocated to more than 23 000 fishing vessels worldwide, indicating a commitment to increasing transparency and traceability in the fisheries sector activities.

Having a UVI and being a part of the Global Record database facilitates their registration, port entry and vessel inspections.

In addition, some FAO Members and regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are amending regulations, making it mandatory for certain fishing vessels to have IMO numbers as UVIs.

IMO Number

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Ship Identification Number Scheme is an integral part of the shipping sector.

It is required under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, for all cargo ships of 300 gross tonnage and above as well as all passenger ships of 100 gross tonnage and above.

Initially, this Number Scheme applied only to merchant ships. With an amendment in 2013, through IMO Resolution A.1078(28), the IMO Assembly agreed to a proposal, co-sponsored by FAO, to include fishing vessels of 100 gross tonnage and above. In 2014, the Thirty-first meeting of the Committee of Fisheries (COFI) agreed that the IMO Number should be used as the Global Record’s UVI for Phase 1.

Additionally, in December 2017 the IMO Assembly agreed to a second amendment to the IMO Number Scheme by which “the Scheme now applies to ships of 100 gross tonnage and above, including fishing vessels of steel and non-steel hull construction […] and to all motorized inboard fishing vessels of less than 100 gross tonnage down to a size limit of 12 metres in length overall (LOA) authorized to operate outside waters under the national jurisdiction of the flag State”.

IHS Maritime and Trade (formerly Lloyd’s Register-Fairplay), a private company, is managing the Scheme on behalf of IMO. Owners of fishing vessels wishing to apply for an IMO Number should click here.