Commercial fishing and fisheries – guidance

Apply for and register your vessel monitoring system device

Apply for a grant-aided vessel monitoring system, register or re-register your device, and guidance for manufacturers and engineers.

All UK commercial fishing vessels 12 metres or more in overall length must have a UK government-approved satellite-tracking device. The device allows a vessel to be automatically located and identified through a vessel monitoring system (VMS) by transmitting position data every 2 hours when at sea. It also allows the Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) to poll the fishing vessel.

VMS+ devices are currently being installed on vessels between 12 and 15 metres overall length.

Your device may send reports more often than every 2 hours. See guidance on VMS skipper responsibilities, device requirements and specification, VMS+ and reports.

Vessels only used for aquaculture that operate exclusively inside the baselines of EU member states are exempt from satellite monitoring and don’t require a satellite-tracking device.

Apply and register your device

You must complete and return the suitable form to the relevant FMC before your terminal is installed and activated. You can:

Re-register your device

You must re-register your device using application form VMS2 if the vessel has either a new:

  • port of administration
  • owner

Or you are:

  • proposing replacing your device
  • transferring a position reporting account
  • closing a position reporting account with your current satellite communications service
  • opening a new position reporting account with a satellite communications service

Manufacturers and engineers

Device manufacturers should let the suitable fisheries department know when a device is being released to a vessel owner or their agent using application form VMS4a.

Engineers should complete the application form VMS4b to confirm a device has been installed and is working once the UK FMC confirms that the device is transmitting reports.

Further information

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) operates a satellite VMS that is used to monitor vessels 12 metres or more in overall length in UK waters. The system is used to track all UK-registered fishing vessels globally.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011 sets out the requirements for vessel monitoring systems and requires each member state to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that the satellite tracking devices do not permit the input or output of false positions and are not capable of being manually overridden.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 2244/2003 requires each member state to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that the satellite-tracking devices do not permit the input or output of false positions and are not capable of being manually overridden.