NMFS Announces Type Approval
Vessel Monitoring System
for Atlantic Highly Migratory Species
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) published a notice in the Federal Register on March 11, 2003 (68 FR 11534) to provide a list of the vessel monitoring systems (VMS) approved by NOAA Fisheries for use by pelagic longline vessels in the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fisheries and set forth relevant features of each VMS. The notification was issued to update and replace the approval notice published on September 9, 1999.
To obtain copies of the list of NOAA Fisheries approved VMS mobile transmitting units and communications service providers, or information regarding the status of VMSs being evaluated by NOAA Fisheries for approval, write to NMFS Office for Law Enforcement (OLE), 8484 Georgia Avenue, Suite 415, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or contact Jonathan Pinkerton, National VMS Program Manager, phone 301-427-2300.
Note that the fax number for submission of the Vessel Monitoring Systems Installation and Activation Checklist provided in the notice published in the Federal Register on March 11, 2003, was incorrect. The correct fax number for checklist submissions is: (727) 570-5575.
NOAA Fisheries issued a regulation (64 FR 29090, May 28, 1999) codified
at 50 CFR 635.69, requiring the use of VMS by vessels that are permitted
to fish for HMS and that have pelagic longline gear onboard. Due to
litigation, the requirement had been suspended until a favorable court
ruling in the fall of 2002. In the next month, NOAA Fisheries expects
to publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the effective
date of this requirement. NOAA Fisheries will give fishermen at least
60 days advance notice to install VMS on their vessels. The placement
of VMS units on the fishing vessels in this fishery will enable NOAA
Fisheries to determine vessel locations and will complement the Agency's
efforts to monitor and enforce compliance with applicable regulations.
The VMS consists of both the mobile transceiver unit placed on the vessel and the communications service provider that supplies the wireless link between the unit on the vessel and the shoreside data user. In the HMS Fisheries, the vessel owner is required to procure both VMS components. The two VMS components may, or may not, be provided by a single vendor. Thus, depending on the choice of components, the vessel owner may need to procure the mobile transceiver unit and the mobile communications service separately.
This FAX notice is a courtesy to the HMS fishery participants to help keep you informed about your fishery. Official notice of Federal fishing actions is made through filling such notice with the Office of Federal Register.
John H. Dunnigan Dated
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries