Welcome to the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Gulf Information Website.
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Since 2005, the Snow Crab Fishery in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, including Aboriginal and Traditional groups, and those fishing Temporary Allocations, use a DFO approved Vessel Monitoring System while fishing in Crab Fishing Areas (CFA) 12, 18, 25 and 26. License conditions include the installation and continuous operation of VMS equipment on all vessels while engaged in fishing in activities in CFAs 12, 18, 25 and 26.
VMS allows the Department to enhance its fisheries surveillance and enforcement capabilities for aerial surveillance, at-sea patrol, and deployment of at-sea observers and contributes to the overall management of the snow crab fishery, while providing additional data in support of science research. Use of VMS allows fishing vessel positions to be transmitted to DFO at regular intervals via a satellite communication system. This information is relayed to a monitoring centre, where a variety of software tools are used for mapping, analyzing statistical data, and archiving information.
VMS is a satellite based, near real time, positional tracking system. These devices consist of a Global Positioning System (GPS) and a satellite data transmitter that provides information on vessel name, location and activity. License conditions in certain fisheries require that fishing vessels carry a VMS unit approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. VMS is not intended to replace existing mandatory safety equipment.
A VMS unit is about the size of a small radio with an antenna. Data is sent to a satellite, relayed to a station on the ground and then sent to the designated vessel-monitoring centre in near real time or at pre-determined time intervals.
The VMS device is available with a backup battery that allows it to continue to operate in the event of a power failure.
VMS provides Fisheries and Oceans Canada with important information to manage fisheries resources.
VMS improves compliance with fisheries regulations by providing regular positional information of vessel activity.
VMS improves the cost-efficiency of observer deployments and monitoring conducted under the Dockside Monitoring Program.
VMS provides Fisheries and Oceans Canada with additional information about the status of fish stocks and fish movement by contributing to increased accuracy and timeliness of catch-and-effort information. This data provides valuable information to ensure the continued sustainable management of fisheries resources.
The VMS unit has a two-way data communication port that can provide email access while at sea with the addition of a laptop computer. This allows the crew onboard a vessel to communicate directly with their family and friends.
There are many fisheries in the Atlantic Region that are required to be equipped with VMS devices, notably various scallop, crab, groundfish and shrimp fleets.
VMS is widely used in many fisheries throughout the world.
All foreign and domestic vessels fishing groundfish and shrimp in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Regulatory Area outside Canada’s 200 mile limit are required to have a VMS device onboard that transmits positional information, in addition to its course and speed.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to evaluate devices that are both cost-effective for fish harvesters and meet regulatory requirements. Unit pricing starts at approximately $1500, but can be higher if additional features are chosen. Savings can be achieved with volume purchasing.
This document is also available for downloading or viewing as a PDF Version (593 KB)*
A list of approved units is available on our website at:
Approved VMS Units by Fisheries & Oceans Canada
Vessel Monitoring System application form:
Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Form (29 KB PDF)*