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Namibian Fishermen Urged to Install Vessel Monitoring System

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NAMIBIA - The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau has urged all fishing companies to install the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) if they have not yet done so. The VMS is used by government to monitor activities of fishing vessels at sea.

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Mr Esau made the request during the commissioning of the newly upgraded N$1.3 million monitoring system at Walvis Bay.

According to Mr Esau the upgrading started in 2012 already and the VMS became operational in July last year and is now able to monitor the activities of fishing vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zone, reports NewEra.

“The ministry is ever since in a position to monitor 50 per cent of our licenced fishing fleet. With this upgrade it is planned that Namibia should be in a position to monitor 100 per cent of its licenced fishing vessels, excluding those exempted by the end of 2014,” he said

With the upgrading of the system the ministry will be able to track all licensed fishing vessels operating both in Namibian, as well as in international waters.

The VMS supplements monitoring, control and surveillance through area control and science by way of the mapping of fleet dynamics. The VMS has been installed in accordance with the provisions of existing Namibian fisheries legislation of 2000 dealing with the VMS regulations of 2005 that focus on depth restrictions, conservation and other conditions attached to fishing quotas.

The legislation requires that all licensed vessels have a functional VMS on board, which is also a minimum requirement to curb illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

“The system can also monitor the location of fishing vessels through an Automatic Location Communicator (ALC), then analyse and present the information to the VMS Centre in Walvis Bay and then to the surveillance and enforcement personnel for processing and further action if necessary,” Mr Esau explained.

All vessels already have tamper-proof ALCs installed for accurate vessel location and current time positioning by way of a global positioning system (GPS). According to Esau the VMS is also a useful tool for finding vessels near to a ship in distress. If a ship is carrying an ALC the last reported position may be used to narrow the search area and save valuable time. Currently 152 vessels are already captured on the system, while 77 of those are already reporting location and other data.

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