Australian Fisheries

Commonwealth operators running out of time to replace vessel monitoring systems

Inmarsat C Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) devices have reached ‘end of life’ and are no longer permitted for use in Commonwealth fisheries after 22 March 2024.

Nine per cent of active vessels in the Commonwealth fleet are still relying on Inmarsat C devices to meet VMS obligations.

With only nine days to go before Inmarsat C VMS devices must be replaced, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) urges operators to take immediate action to replace devices to allow time for a replacement device to be shipped and become operational.

Operators without a replacement device fitted and operating on 22 March 2023 will not be allowed to continue fishing, and risk licence suspensions, fines, and orders to remain in port until such time as the devices are replaced.

Operators still using Inmarsat C VMS devices are also unnecessarily incurring expenses of up to $150 per month to keep the device operating.

AFMA’s approved list of VMS devices includes a range of alternatives suitable for various fishing operations and circumstances. Operators should contact their preferred suppliers to discuss replacement options as soon as possible.

Consistent with AFMA’s withdrawal of approval, many regional fisheries management organisations, (international organisations regulating regional fishing activities in the high seas) have also directed that existing Inmarsat C devices are prohibited for use beyond 22 March 2024.

In October 2020, AFMA advised fishers that it had withdrawn approval for the use and installation of Inmarsat C devices to meet VMS requirements. At this time, these units were ‘grandfathered’ allowing existing units to remain, but no new or second-hand units were to be installed or transferred between vessels.

In April 2023, AFMA strongly encouraged operators to replace Inmarsat C devices as soon as possible, or risk being unable to fish when the devices ultimately fail.

In 2024, AFMA has increased efforts to notify operators of their responsibilities through AFMA’s website and social media platforms. Fisheries officers and VMS staff have been contacting operators and industry by phone and will continue to do so.

Enquiries can be directed to the AFMA VMS team at or (02) 6225 5555. Dual endorsed operators should also contact their relevant state/territory fisheries agency to ensure the suitability of replacement devices.

For more information:  
Media: or 0437 869 860 

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