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National Vessel Monitoring System

Notice to Fishers:

As a result of COVID-19, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is requiring staff to work from home. Due to this change in operations, fax and regular mail options are currently not available to receive VMS Registration forms. As such, fishers will now be required to send their completed VMS Registration forms (where required by Condition of License) to the following email address:

DFO apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause. 

We would also like to remind fishers that the VMS Registration form is only required under the following circumstances:

  1. First installation of a new VMS unit
  2. Replacement of a VMS unit
  3. Transfer of a VMS unit
  4. Change in license holder
  5. Change in vessel registration 

Forms do not need to be sent if none of the above circumstances are met. 

For additional information please contact and indicate your region (NL, Maritimes, Gulf, Quebec, C&A, Pacific) in the subject line.

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:

The system aids Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue activities by:

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.

Contact us

The National Vessel Monitoring System


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