Introduction to Vessel Monitoring Services in the US

Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) are intended primarily for fisheries management

National Marine Fisheries Service has authority over VMS

Usually subsidizes purchase but not operating cost

Because of investment, NMFS tends not to like shared computers that may crash

This potentially increases operating costs compared to more integrated electronics
Good computer maintenance helps justify integrated systems

But have secondary applications in safety and research

We track VMS outside the US, which will give awareness of other VMS manufacturers not yet approved in the US, as well as other countries' and regions' applications for it.


Boat: GPS receiver, onboard processing, satellite transmitter

Processing may be on dedicated unit (i.e., self-contained with receiver & transmitter) or customer-provided PC
Type approved by nation, region, and fishery
May have optional features.

Communications to shore

Satellite-based, either L-band INMARSAT or one of several VHF providers
VMS vendor may package both GPS and satellite antennas in a single enclosure
You will need to pay monthly communications costs, either through the VMS vendor or directly to the communications vendor.

Fisheries Management Center of nation of registry

(Fisheries Management Center of nation whose waters are being fished)

Fisheries followed by VMS fall into two main categories:

Local/regional fish such as scallops in the US NMFS Northeast Region, or rock shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico (US Southeast Region)

Highly Migratory Species (HMS) such as tuna and billfish, or Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) in the Antarctic. which can be caught in multiple regions

VMS and Other Electronics

AIS and VTS are quite different from VMS, although they may be complementary may apply to marine oversight and sensing programs that deal with the safety of navigation, hazardous material spills, and environmental threats such as algal blooms. VMS uses different radio technologies, is long-range, and handles commercially sensitive information. Since the vessel components are expensive, most countries subsidize the purchase of equipment, although the vessel owner may have to pay for installation, maintenance, and continuing communications costs.