Developing a new Vessel Monitoring System standard

Current status: Closed

This consultation ran from July 15, 2019, to August 30, 2019.

A new standard

This new standard will modernize and replace Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s 2005 VMS Hardware Type Approval Process document. It establishes clear and streamlined requirements that all new units will have to meet in order to be approved for use. We aim to create a new standard that reflects changing technology and allows for innovation, while at the same time ensuring that Canada’s needs are being met.

This new standard will not impact any regulatory requirements or licence conditions currently in place.

How to participate

The preliminary draft standard was reviewed by a technical committee, comprised of representatives of the fishing industry, hardware industry, and the Department. Fisheries and Oceans has carefully considered comments received from the technical committee in fall 2018 and Spring 2019. Version 4.2 reflects the rework of the document based on comments received.

Draft 4.2 was made available for public review and comment. Please note that Appendix A: Application form and Appendix B: Qualification Standard will be developed after the main standard is finalized and is thus not included in this draft. Following this, the comments will be reviewed and integrated into the Standard where appropriate. It is anticipated that the Standard will be finalized in Fall 2019 and implemented in Winter 2020.

Standard for the Development of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Hardware - Draft version 4.2
(PDF, 420 KB)

Who was the focus of this consultation

We engaged with:


1. Will I have to buy a new VMS unit?

It is possible that following the implementation of the new standard, some units that are currently approved for use will not meet the new requirements set forth by this standard. Following implementation, all units (those currently in the program as well as new units awaiting approval) will have to undergo a qualification process by DFO. Those that no longer meet the requirements will be removed from DFO’s list of approved units and those harvesters who utilize these units will have to replace them within a specified timeframe. It is essential that if you purchase a new unit, you complete a new VMS registration form [PDF] to suspend your old unit and register your new unit with DFO.

2. How will I know if my existing VMS unit is still approved?

DFO will make every effort to communicate with harvesters throughout this process, however it is ultimately the responsibility of harvesters to know what unit they have and whether or not it is approved the use. The list of approved units can be found at Approved Vessel Monitoring System units.

3. Does DFO recommend a specific unit?

DFO does not endorse one unit over another. All VMS units listed on Approved Vessel Monitoring System units have been qualified by DFO and will therefore meet established license conditions.

4. Will any other VMS requirements change?

No. This standard pertains only to VMS hardware and will not have any impact on established VMS licence conditions or management measures. Please note that as per licence conditions, if you purchase a new unit you must complete a new VMS registration form [PDF] and submit it the department in order to register your new unit.

5. My VMS unit is no longer qualified, can I still go fishing?

An identified grace period will be established to allow harvesters to purchase a new VMS unit should their existing units no longer meet the standard. This information will be posted on this webpage and letters will be sent to harvesters informing them of when they need to have a new unit in order to be in compliance with their license conditions. Following this grace period, harvester’s that do not have a DFO approved unit will be in violation of their licence conditions and subject to relevant enforcement action.

6. Who can I contact for technical support?

Technical support, installation, usage and any other product assistance will be provided solely by the VMS Service Providers.

7. Where can I find more information?

Updates will regularly be posted on this webpage, or specific questions can be send to:  or VMS Support:

Contact us

You can contact for further details or questions regarding the new Standard.

Related links