The MMO has confirmed that the roll-out of inshore vessel monitoring system (iVMS) devices for vessels in England has been restarted, following the hiatus earlier this year after approval for two terminals was withdrawn.
New funding deadlines and limits are also now in place.
The announcement comes while many small vessel owners in England and Wales who paid for iVMS units from Maritime Systems remain out of pocket. In the previous round of roll-outs, the Maritime Systems units were by far the most popular of the four type-approved units available to owners of under-12m vessels. Many owners paid for systems ahead of the previous deadlines for funding approval, only to see units fail to be delivered by the company.
Following the independent testing commissioned by the MMO after the first tranches of roll-out across the fleet had completed, only two of the original four devices – Fulcrum NEMO and Succorfish SC2 – remain type-approved. In its announcement, the MMO says it ‘has been working closely with the suppliers of both devices to make it easier and more convenient for fishers to now order devices and have them installed’.
The new iVMS roll-out plan is based on an installation schedule of port visits running from 4 September to 30 November. The MMO will initially focus the roll-out on the over-6m fleet, and on ports with the largest numbers of vessels that have yet to have iVMS installed.
A spokesperson for the MMO said: “We’ll contact vessel owners directly over the coming weeks with details of the dates when engineers will be available for their port, although fishers can also book an installation directly with their preferred supplier from today.
“Anyone with a device already fitted which is no longer type-approved should not attempt to remove it themselves – the removal and safe disposal of any non-type-approved device is covered as part of the revised installation process.
“In line with assurances given to fishers, MMO confirms it will cover costs of up to £1,050 to support fishers secure a suitable iVMS device, meaning fishers can reclaim purchase and installation costs. The process for claiming funding has been streamlined, and fishers should now claim their European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) grant by providing proof of purchase from their preferred supplier, before 30 November, 2023.”
MMO chief executive Tom McCormack added: “iVMS data will allow us to better represent fisheries in key activities such as quota negotiations and marine planning. It will also help us improve sustainable and traceable fisheries management.
“We are working with iVMS device suppliers and installation engineers, and are collectively focused on the roll-out plan from September through to November. We are aiming to make the installation process more convenient and efficient for fishers, helping to reduce disruption to fishing activity, and best supporting industry.
“I can confirm actions have been taken to simplify the way fishers can claim their EMFF grant payments, providing they do so before 30 November, 2023.
“MMO remains committed to supporting industry, and we will be sending full details and guidance directly to affected fishers from mid-August. Our coastal teams at quaysides and
MMO offices also remain on hand to support and assist, and our dedicated hotline will stay open throughout the roll-out to guide fishers through their next steps.”
The helpline is available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, on: 01900 508618. You can
also email the MMO at: ivms@ marinemanagement.org.uk
You can also access information here.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have yet to confirm the roll-out of iVMS, although both administrations are committed to doing so, ahead of a statutory instrument that is expected in 2024 making it a legal requirement for all UK- registered fishing vessels.
MMO: ‘We are paying claims’
The MMO previously confirmed that vessel owners who had fitted the Martitime Systems units, from which type approval has now been withdrawn, would receive grant funding towards the terminals – although not for airtime costs, or for loss of earnings while in port having the units installed.
However, Fishing News has spoken to a number of vessel owners who have paid for the units but not received them. They now appear to be left in limbo, with no funding having been paid.
We raised this issue with the MMO, which seems to be aware of the situation that some owners find themselves in.
An MMO spokesperson said: “MMO would advise fishers in this scenario to contact and speak with the Grants Team to discuss. These will be assessed on a case by case basis, but provided the fishers have evidence to support, usually by way of invoice and proof of payment, then we are paying claims.”
Maritime Systems has continued to argue that it was unfairly removed from the type-approved list, and that its iVMS unit, the cheapest of the original four available, was fit for purpose.
After the latest MMO announcement of increased funding for units to £1,050, James Glover of Maritime Systems said: “This is a clear waste of public funds. The average cost of the previous iVMS units installed before the project was paused was £605 each, and now the MMO is spending over £400 more.”
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 £3.50 here.
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