Vessel monitoring systems help AFMA to monitor vessel position, course and speed, and to make sure Commonwealth fishing vessels are doing the right thing.

All VMS units installed on Commonwealth endorsed fishing vessels must meet AFMA type approved standards. AFMA primarily (but not exclusively) utilises the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) type approval process which sets out the requirement for a specific VMS model to be granted type approval.Further details can be accessed via the FFA website.

AFMA has also type approved additional units which are not approved by the FFA. Operators should be aware that these are only available for use within Australian waters. Boats operating, or permitted to operate, on the high seas on and or in Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) areas are not permitted to use these units.

Both FFA and/or AFMA type approved VMS requirements include the firmware (software) applicable to each manufacturer make and model. Type approval requirements are updated on the AFMA website from time to time in order to account for changes and advancements in technology, firmware and inclusion of new devices.

What you need to know

  • all VMS units installed must meet AFMA approved standards
  • a VMS unit must be fitted and working on boats nominated to Commonwealth fishing concessions at all times
  • your VMS must stay on at all times – even  if the boat is tied up in port, or out fishing under a state fishing permit/concession, or if you are doing repairs on your boat
  • you can only switch off your VMS if you have prior written approval from AFMA
  • it is your responsibility to fit and maintain a working VMS
  • failure to have a working VMS is an offence.

Make sure you

  • seek approval from AFMA before switching off a VMS
  • check with AFMA if you have any concerns with your VMS unit before you go fishing
  • include your VMS unit in routine maintenance programs.

You must not

  • switch off your unit for any reason without prior approval from AFMA
  • leave port if your VMS is not working.

You must not switch off your VMS unit unless you have prior written approval from AFMA to do so.  If you would like to switch off your VMS, for example where the boat is going on the slip for maintenance or repairs, you can make an application for a Temporary Switch Off (TSO) approval.

What you need to do

Complete the VMS Temporary Switch Off webform (recommended) and submit to AFMA for processing.


You can download a word version of the VMS Temporary Switch Off form and email the completed form to ausvms [at]

This form should be completed to authorise the Nominated Partner Agencies of the National Vessel Monitoring System to electronically monitor a vessels Automatic Location Communicator (ALC) and disseminate data from it, and related vessel data, in accordance with the nominated partner agencies policies and respective legislation.

What you need to do

Complete the National VMS Vessel Tracking Authorisation Web Form (recommended) and submit to AFMA for processing.


You can download a PDF of the National VMS Tracking Authorisation Form  and email the completed form to ausvms [at]

Watch the video on how to complete the National VMS Vessel Tracking Authorisation Form.

Modification applications

Concession holders are responsible for making sure the VMS on board a nominated boat is operational at all times (as per Regulation 9D of the Fisheries Management Regulations 1992).

Non compliance with the condition is a breach of section 95(1) of the Fisheries Management Act 1991.

Alternative VMS units may be authorised in circumstances where power supply, space limitations or weather protection make the fitment of an ICVMS impractical – approvals for this will be made by AFMA in writing.

Alternatives that may be considered:

  • an exemption from the requirement to have a personal computer linked to the approved Inmarsat-C Automatic Communication Locator (ALC)

Concession holders must fill out an Application for ICVM Modification (PDF, 40 KB)to be considered for an exemption.

Return completed forms by:

Fax: 02 6225 5440 (Attn:VMS area)


Vessel Monitoring Systems
Australian Fisheries Management Authority
Box 7051
Canberra BC

Questions about the modification application process? Contact AFMA VMS team on 1300 723 621 or