Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

Wales has become the first nation in the UK to require all of its licensed commercial fishing boats are fitted with a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).

Boats 12m or more in length were already required to have such a system in place, but an Order coming into force today means those under this size, more than 350 boats, must have a VMS device.

The under 12 metre fishing fleet makes up around 97% of Welsh registered fishing boats.

The VMS will transmit the geographical position, date, time, speed and course of a boat, at least once every 10 minutes, while fishing operations are being undertaken.

This is important in gaining a fuller and accurate picture of fishing boat activity in the Welsh zone, and for Welsh registered boats wherever they may be, to improve fisheries and marine environment management.

A consultation began in 2019 on the requirement for the under 12m fleet and to support the fishing industry, Vessel Monitoring Systems have been offered for free to the relevant Welsh fishing fleet. However, due to European Maritime and Fisheries Fund rules, from today onwards fishers will have to purchase the devices themselves.

Free device installation began in December 2020 although no monitoring of fishing activity of the under 12m fishing fleet has been undertaken before the legislation comes into force .

More than 98% of boats in this category have been fitted with a VMS. The installation of VMS on vessels is done in full consultation with the owner and is carried out by fully qualified engineers.