Welsh fishing boats will be fitted with monitoring devices
Wales has today become the first country in the UK to require all its licensed commercial fishing vessels to be fitted with a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).
Boats of 12m or more in length were already required to have such a system in place, but an order coming into force today means those under that size, over 350 boats, must have a VMS device.
The fishing fleet under 12 meters accounts for around 97% of Welsh registered fishing vessels.
The VMS will transmit the geographical position, date, time, speed and heading of a boat, at least once every 10 minutes, during fishing operations.
This is important to get a more complete and accurate picture of fishing vessel activity in the Welsh area, and for Welsh registered vessels wherever located, to improve fisheries management and marine environment.
A consultation started in 2019 on the under 12m fleet requirement and to support the fishing industry, vessel monitoring systems have been offered free of charge to the affected Welsh fishing fleet. However, due to European Maritime and Fisheries Fund rules, from today fishermen will have to buy the devices themselves.
The installation of free devices began in December 2020, although no monitoring of the fishing activity of the fishing fleet under 12 meters was undertaken before the legislation came into force today .
More than 98% of the boats in this category are equipped with a VMS. The installation of VMS on vessels is done in full consultation with the owner and is carried out by fully qualified engineers.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I am delighted that Wales is the first country in the UK to require all commercial fishing vessels operating in Wales or the Welsh area to be equipped with a vessel monitoring system.
“We want to help ensure a sustainable and thriving fishing industry in Wales and this step will be fundamental to the effective management of fisheries and the wider marine environment.
“The implementation of the catch recording system for vessels under 10m in 2020 means that we now have better information on what is being caught, and this, combined with VMS, will give us a more complete picture of fishing in Wales and where it takes place.
“It will also provide industry with evidence of where their catches come from and where they fished which could be used to resolve any disputes with other marine users.
“We have worked closely with industry and offered substantial funding through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to help prepare fishermen for this new requirement.”