Vessel movement monitoring

Action status

  • Implemented
  • Undergoing NMFS Review
  • Approved by Council
  • Under development by the Council

In April 2016, the Council took final action on a package of recommendations related to the monitoring of vessel movements. The package includes:

  • providing fishermen a choice between increasing their vessel’s satellite vessel monitoring system (VMS) ping rate, using electronic discard monitoring in conjunction with their VMS unit;
  • allowing vessels declared into the whiting mothership fishery to change their declaration at-sea in order to switch into the shorebased individual fishing quota (IFQ) fishery without first returning to shore;
  • creating a declaration for testing gear that would allow vessels under such declaration to have gear deployed without an observer on board; 
  • adding a provision to allow a vessel on a trawl sector IFQ trip to move pot gear across management lines without returning it to shore; and
  • revise the definition of continuous transit in the groundfish regulations.

The Council recommended the use of new, lost cost cellular-based VMS units; however, NMFS was unable to propose implementation for only the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery citing that  set up a regional program and approval process would have been a duplication of the existing national VMS program. NMFS published the proposed rule in October 2019 (84 FR 54579). Additional description of the adopted options is provided in the Vessel Monitoring Public Scoping Document

In addition, NMFS headquarters published a proposed rule for the national VMS program on January 24, 2020 (85 FR 4257).  The rule proposes to amend the existing type approval regulations to include cellular-based VMS units.  Currently, the regulations only allow vessels to use satellite-based VMS units to meet vessel location monitoring requirements in regional fisheries. The rule would meet the Council’s recommendation to allow vessels to use cellular-based units.