New Fisheries Monitoring System Unveiled

The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau has urged all fishing companies that have not yet installed the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) of the ministry, that is supposed to monitor activities of fishing vessels at sea, to do so urgently.

Esau made the request during the commissioning of the N$1.3 million monitoring system on Friday at Walvis Bay. The system was acquired from a French company that specialises in monitoring electronics. The VMS was acquired and installed in 2002 already, but became obsolete over the years and was unable to perform to the ministry’s satisfaction. The ministry then started to explore the possibility of upgrading the system to acceptable international standard and acquired the present system at a cost of N$1.3 million. According to Esau the upgrading started in 2012 already and the VMS became operational in July last year and is now able to monitor the activities of fishing vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zone. “The ministry is ever since in a position to monitor 50 percent of our licenced fishing fleet. With this upgrade it is planned that Namibia should be in a position to monitor 100 percent of her licenced fishing vessels, excluding those exempted by the end of 2014,” he said.

With the upgrading of the system the ministry will be able to track all licensed fishing vessels operating both in Namibian, as well as in international waters. The VMS supplements monitoring, control and surveillance through area control and science by way of the mapping of fleet dynamics. The VMS has been installed in accordance with the provisions of existing Namibian fisheries legislation of 2000 dealing with the VMS regulations of 2005 that focus on depth restrictions, conservation and other conditions attached to fishing quotas. The legislation requires that all licensed vessels have a functional VMS on board, which is also a minimum requirement to curb illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. “The system can also monitor the location of fishing vessels through an Automatic Location Communicator (ALC), then analyse and present the information to the VMS Centre in Walvis Bay and then to the surveillance and enforcement personnel for processing and further action if necessary,” Esau explained. All vessels already have tamper-proof ALCs installed for accurate vessel location and current time positioning by way of a global positioning system (GPS). According to Esau the VMS is also a useful tool for finding vessels near to a ship in distress. If a ship is carrying an ALC the last reported position may be used to narrow the search area and save valuable time. Currently 152 vessels are already captured on the system, while 77 of those are already reporting location and other data.

Source : New Era