Australian Fisheries

Final notice to Commonwealth operators — Inmarsat C vessel monitoring systems have reached ‘end of life’

Inmarsat C vessel monitoring system (VMS) devices have reached ‘end of life’ and are no longer permitted for use in Commonwealth fisheries after this Friday, 22 March 2024.

Operators without a replacement device fitted and operating on 22 March 2024 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.

With only a few 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.

There are still 28 active vessels in the Commonwealth fleet that are currently relying on Inmarsat C devices to meet VMS obligations.

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In October 2020, AFMA advised fishers that it had withdrawn approval for the use and installation of Inmarsat C devices to meet VMS requirements.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.

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