Why is VMS important?  

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

What action will be taken if my VMS is not operating?  

The following action will be taken in respect of VMS non-compliance.  

When a VMS unit stops reporting, the boat will be ordered to return immediately to its home port and/or to remain at port until:  

  • a technician has certified to AFMA that the VMS unit is operating, and   
  • AFMA has confirmed that the unit is operating, and  
  • AFMA has formally lifted the order to return to or remain at port.   

Operators who have not sought a temporary switch off (TSO) approval to switch off their VMS may be issued with a Commonwealth Fisheries Infringement Notice and fined $2264 for an individual or $13320 for a company.  

Note: Any operator who fails to comply with an order to return to port or who leaves port before AFMA has lifted a return-to-port order may be prosecuted.  

I can’t tell when my VMS is and isn’t working. How will I know if there’s a problem?  

AFMA will notify operators when a unit stops reporting. Where the fault is a technical problem, AFMA will work with the operator to try to immediately restart the unit.  

I am only fishing in state waters, so why does it matter that my VMS isn’t operating?  

All boats nominated to Commonwealth or Torres Strait concessions are required to have a VMS unit operating at all times regardless of the jurisdiction they are fishing in.  

I have an e-monitoring system fitted to my boat, so will I be ordered back to port if my VMS fails?  

No. Provided the e-monitoring unit is operating correctly and remains operating you will be able to continue the current trip. However, you will not be allowed to leave port on future trips until the VMS is operating correctly again.  

I have a TSO approval. Will AFMA take action if I turn my VMS off?  

No, provided you meet all the notification requirements under the terms of the TSO.  

I have a TSO and just forgot to notify AFMA I was turning my VMS off. Why do I need a technician’s report?  

By failing to notify AFMA you have breached a condition of your fishing concession and AFMA requires a technician to look at the unit to confirm that there are no faults with it.  

My VMS unit has never failed before. Why am I being punished for the bad behavior of others?  

During the zero-tolerance campaign, all instances of non-compliance will be treated consistently regardless of history.  

What if the problem is AFMA’s fault?  

Whilst it is extremely unusual, the problem can occasionally be with AFMA’s system and in that case would normally affect the whole fleet. If the problem is with AFMA’s system no action will be taken against the operator.  

My unit seems to be faulty can I get some special consideration?  

No. While AFMA will help where possible to rectify the issue, it is ultimately the concession holder’s responsibility to fit and maintain their VMS unit.