Vessel monitoring systems are now a standard part of the MCS toolkit. MRAG have experience of the practical management of vessel monitoring systems, analysis and assessment of VMS data and advice relating to setting up, commissioning or developing VMS functionality.
MRAG currently manage the VMS on behalf of the Government of St Helena, tracking both St Helena flagged vessels and vessels operating in the tuna fisheries in the EEZs of St Helena and Ascension Island. We previously managed the VMS for the British Indian Ocean Territory pre-implementation of the BIOT Marine Protected Area when licensed fishing ceased.
MRAG have also developed in-house capacity for the analysis and assessment of VMS data. This has been used for environmental and vulnerable marine ecosystem impact assessments where the VMS tracks are interpolated and a techniques applied to generate a vessel “footprint” of where impacts will have occurred. Similarly, this sort of analysis has been used as part of licensing operations where VMS data are submitted by vessels to prove that they have not been engaging in illegal activity. Analyses are performed on the data and any outliers outside normal fishing behaviour will be raised, checked and verified before licences are issued.
MRAG have also prepared technical reviews of the options available for setting up vessel monitoring systems. For example, when the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) was being setup, MRAG prepared a series of papers for the Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC) on the options available for centralised systems that would both fulfil the role of the Commission but provide seamless integration with the VMS already in place at the Forum Fisheries Agency that covered the vessels operating in the EEZs of Pacific Island Coastal States.
MRAG have also assisted in the preparation of technical requirements for VMS tendering processes and the review of submissions, assisting decision making processes for States requiring a VMS implementation.