National Vessel Monitoring System
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s National Vessel Monitoring System is a satellite based, near real-time, positional tracking system. We use the system to monitor the location of vessels and their movement.
The monitoring units consist of a Global Positioning System (GPS) and a satellite data transmitter. These track the vessel’s location (latitude and longitude), date and time. Some units also record the vessel’s course and speed.
The units send the data to a satellite which relays it to the communication service provider, who then sends the data to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Conservation and safety benefits
The Vessel Monitoring System helps conservation and ecosystem management by providing information that:
- helps manage sustainable fisheries resources
- guides compliance program enforcement activities
- supports protected area establishment and management
- reveals positions of potential illegal activity and contributes to the prosecution of offenders
- shows the status of fish stocks and fish movement and contributes to increased accuracy and the timeliness of catch and effort information
The system aids Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue activities by:
- identifying geographical positions of vessels
- finding vessels in distress and identifying nearby vessels that could provide assistance
- reducing unnecessary search and rescue activities by providing the positions of overdue vessels
Marine Security Operation Centers use the system to detect, assess and support coordinated responses to maritime security threats or incidents.
The system units have two-way data communication ports and are capable of additional data transmissions which may be used for other programs. They provide a communication mechanism for the crew, and some units can connect to a computer or handheld device to provide access to at-sea email.
We receive data in near real-time at pre-determined time intervals. We store the data in a central database where we can review and analyze past and current vessel positions.
The data can contribute to scientific studies that support departmental activities. It can also aid in Canada’s participation in Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, such as the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization.
You can find information on data protection and privacy in the privacy notice statement and authorization section at the bottom of the National Vessel Monitoring form.
Where it is required
Many Canadian fisheries require vessels to be equipped with Vessel Monitoring System units. Details on requirements in specific fisheries can be found in the license conditions for each fishery. It’s also widely used in many fisheries throughout the world.
Purchase and register a unit
External manufacturers and communication service providers offer devices that meet regulatory requirements. Only units that have been approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada may be used.
Once your communication service provider activates your device, you must register it with us using the National Vessel Monitoring System form. This gives us the information to connect your unit to your vessel.
The National Vessel Monitoring System
- Vessel Monitoring System application portal
- Approved Vessel Monitoring System units
- Developing a new Vessel Monitoring System standard
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