The MMO has confirmed on its website a new timetable for the roll-out of mandatory VMS to the under-12m fleet in England, as well as confirming the funding to be made available to eligible vessel owners.
The provisional timetable for the roll-out, published last month and printed in Fishing News last week (6 January, ‘Uncertainty over iVMS timetable’), has been extended into January 2023 – a move that will be welcomed by many in the industry who are concerned about the speed of the roll-out. In England, eligible vessel owners will be able to apply for grant funding of up to £650 per vessel, through a grant refund process that is expected to open in February.
Legislation mandating the use of these terminals in England is not expected to come into force until the autumn of 2022, although there will be a legal requirement to operate them when in Welsh waters well ahead of this date.
In the revised statement posted on its website, the MMO writes: “To allow the opportunity for all under-12m English vessels the ability to purchase and install an i-VMS approved device onto their vessel prior to legislation coming into force, the following roll-out schedule has been set out to allow a phased order according to vessel size. This system of tranches has been designed to make rolling out devices to more than 2,000 vessels smoother by offering a framework to manage the flow of demand from fishers.
Fishers are requested to purchase and install a device in alignment with the roll-out timetable below. All devices must be installed and operational before the introduction of the i-VMS statutory instrument (SI) scheduled for autumn 2022.
“Fishers are requested to adhere to the proposed schedule – failure to do so will risk supplier capacity to fit and test devices and may result in delays to grant payments. Fishers need to ensure that they have made decisions on their preferred device in advance of their tranche to ensure that they have a device fitted ahead of the legislation coming into force.
“The opportunity for financial support through grant finding will be limited to the tranche windows. Any vessel that does not have i-VMS approved device installed and working by the time the requirements come into force will not be able to lawfully fish.”
In Wales, the financial position has also been confirmed, with all eligible Welsh vessel owners receiving the AST terminal free of charge, along with one year’s air-time. Under the existing funding rules, eligibility for free terminals will cease to be valid the day that the Welsh legislation comes into effect.
The position in Scotland is rather different. A spokesperson for Marine Scotland told Fishing News: “As set out in the Bute House Agreement and our Programme for Government, we will be extending the requirements for vessel tracking and monitoring systems across the whole commercial fishing fleet by the end of the current parliamentary session, and increasing capacity and capability in marine monitoring and protection, including vessels of less than 12m.
“More effective monitoring in inshore waters has been a key part of the Future Fisheries Management Strategy, and as part of the first phase of the modernisation programme, the use of remote electronic monitoring devices (REM) is being deployed across Scottish- registered scallop dredge vessels to monitor activity at sea.
“As part of this, fully funded voluntary installations have been ongoing around Scotland, and we intend to legislate this year to make REM technology mandatory for scallop dredge vessels.”
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.