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The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) recently published a new Fisheries Information Notice (FIN) to help prepare members of industry for the new Automatic Identification System (AIS) requirements which came into force on the 1st January 2024. The FIN can be accessed at www.sfpa.ie/Search/resource/2890. This FIN provides information on new and existing AIS requirements for fishing vessels in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). AIS is an autonomous and continuous vessel identification and monitoring system which provides means for ships to electronically exchange ship data with other nearby ships and authorities ashore. Current AIS rules for Union fishing vessels are established in the Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009. Under this regulation, vessels over 15 metres’ length overall must be fitted with AIS, and this must be in continuous operation.

This has been revised, and the amending regulation is scheduled to enter into force on the 1st January 2024. AIS rules have been changed, and from the 1st January 2024, the master of a Union fishing vessel must report when they switch off their AIS and their reason for doing so. Only in exceptional circumstances, when the master considers the safety or security of the crew is at imminent risk, may AIS be turned off. Irish vessels and Union vessels fishing in Irish waters should report to the Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) Ireland.

It is crucial for all vessel operators to familiarise themselves with the new AIS rules in advance of January 1st, 2024 to ensure compliance. For further details on the FIN, please contact: sfpafood&fisheriessupport@sfpa.ie. We are committed to providing assistance and guidance to support compliance with the new and existing legislation.