New Commonwealth rules for Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) are now mandatory

Commercial fishing vessels operating in, or transiting through, Australian Marine Parks (AMP) need to be aware of the new rules which came into effect on 1 July 2024.

Allowances have been made for those fisheries that are not currently on VMS under State fisheries management arrangements. These fisheries will have until 1 July 2028 to comply.

NOTE: This arrangement does not apply to commercial fisheries that operate within Coastal Waters (i.e. within 3nM), however, the VMS requirement applies to all commercial fishing vessels operating in, or transiting through an AMP, even if it is only occasionally, and requires a VMS unit to be installed and activated while in an Australian Marine Park.

Class Approvals

Parks Australia has sent the new class approval and factsheets to commercial fishers, via post. To cater for potential postal delays, Parks Australia will focus on increasing awareness of the new class approvals and VMS conditions in marine parks during July.

If fishers are concerned that they have not yet received the new class approvals, they can be downloaded from the Parks Australia website here.

Data sharing agreements

One of the key issues to be resolved is the drafting of a data-sharing agreement between the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and the Commonwealth.

DPIRD and Parks Australia will engage with the WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) in the development of the data sharing agreement to ensure fishing data is secure and ensure commercial fishing interests are protected and treated confidentially.

Recognising that a VMS data sharing agreement is yet to be established between the Director of National Parks and DPIRD, the class approvals for the South-west and North-west networks provide additional transitional arrangements, where the new VMS conditions do not apply until a data sharing arrangement is in effect.

For WA fishers, this means VMS data will not be shared until there are safeguards in place to protect data.

Parks Australia and DPIRD are committed to working with WAFIC to ensure any agreement meets strict confidentiality requirements.

You can find more information here.

A fact sheet is also available here.