Position reporting (VMS)
Position reporting, or tracking of a fishing vessel, requires the vessel to be equipped with a transmitter programmed to send data about the vessel’s position, course and speed to the fishery authorities at least once an hour. The transmitters on Norwegian vessels have to be approved by the Directorate of Fisheries and installed by installers authorized by the Directorate of Fisheries.
Norwegian vessels involved in fishing operations (fishing, harvesting seaweed, transport etc.) with a length of 15 meters and above are required to comply with position reporting. The scope of position reporting is widened to also include vessels of 12 meters from Norway and EU when operating in the Skagerrak area. Foreign vessels of 24 meters or more (15 meters or more in the case of EU vessels) are subject to position reporting when operating in Norwegian waters outside Skagerrak.
According to international agreements, it is the responsibility of the flag state to establish a Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) where the position reports and other electronic reports are received, and, when relevant, the data is forwarded to other national FMCs. The Norwegian FMC is located at the Directorate of Fisheries in Bergen.
Experience has shown that all electronic reporting should be based on the so-called «Flag State Principle». If fishing by a Norwegian vessel takes place in the waters of another coastal state, the required reports received at the Directorate of Fisheries are to be forwarded to the FMC of that coastal state. Likewise, a foreign vessel reports via its national FMC when fishing in Norwegian waters.
By January 2014 approximately 575 Norwegian vessels are subject to position reporting.
Catch and activity reporting (ERS)
When fishing in other countries’ waters and in international waters Norwegian vessels have been required to send various catch and activity reports for many years. In 2005 the Directorate of Fisheries facilitated an electronic system that enabled Norwegian fishing vessels to fulfill the reporting requirements by sending such reports electronically (replacing the manual system by telex or telefax). In 2007 the scope of this simple electronic reporting system was widened, in a pilot project, to facilitate more detailed reporting of catch and activity while at sea, i.e. information compatible with the information registered in the traditional paper log book.
Based on the experience from the pilot project a new national regulation on the electronic reporting of catch and activities was introduced in 2010. In this new regulation the requirements related to content, format and reporting frequency of various reports were specified. The idea was that by combining the information in the required electronic reports it sums up to the information registered in the traditional paper log book.
Private IT-companies, sometimes in cooperation with the owners of fishing vessels, were invited to develop the necessary software to meet the requirements of the Norwegian fishery authorities. In addition the Directorate of Fisheries required that the software should make the fishermen able to comply with the reporting requirements when operating in other countries zones as well as in international waters. The underlying principle used by the Directorate of Fisheries was, however, that all official information as regards catch and activity by vessels flying the Norwegian flag while at sea should be stored and be made accessible in the Directorate’s databases.
Reporting of data on catch and activities is required to be carried out in the same way as other electronic reporting (i.e. in accordance with the Flag State Principle, whereby reports are sent to the flag state FMC as encrypted e-mail and the sender of data is uniquely identified, and RETURN messages confirming that the messages are received are part of the message exchange).
Norwegian vessels, when operating in national waters, in the economic zones of other countries or in international waters, are able to report their fishing activity using one reporting system. All relevant information, including the final recipient of the report, is registered in the software on board the vessel, and the reports are sent electronically to the Directorate of Fisheries. The established data communication system at the Directorate of Fisheries identifies the final recipient of the report and, if required, forwards the report automatically.
The requirements of catch and activity reporting applies to all Norwegian vessels 15 meters and above (12 meters when operating in the Skagerrak area) involved in fishing operations.
In the same way, vessels flying the flag of the countries which have fisheries agreements with Norway can report electronically when fishing in Norwegian waters.
Bilateral agreements on the exchange of electronic data are in a continuous process of development. In 2010 Norway and the European Union reached a bilateral agreement about data exchange for fishing vessel operating in each others’ economic zones. This agreement formed a foundation to be used in other such agreements. Common principles were established to ensure adequate information for control and enforcement of fishing activities.
Norway is currently a signatory to agreements on electronic exchange of catch and activity reports from most of the waters where Norwegian fishing vessels operate. Electronic reporting has long been possible in NAFO, NEAFC, CCAMLR and ICCAT. In July 2013 a bilateral agreement on electronic exchange of catch and activity data was made between Norway and Iceland. This agreement entered into force for Norwegian vessels fishing in Icelandic waters as of July 2013 and for Icelandic vessels in Norwegian waters as of January 2014. In addition we have reached an agreement with Greenland, which will enter into force as of January 2015.
Norway has also reached an agreement with Russia (October 2012). However, the date for entry into force is not yet decided due to legal issues.
The setup of the different reports, routing of reports, time limits, responsibility of the fisherman, Flag State FMC etc. are some of the important elements of these agreements.
Access to information
All data is stored by the Directorate of Fisheries and is only accessible to authorized personnel who are subject to a duty of confidentiality. The main users of the information are the Norwegian Coast Guard and the Directorate of Fisheries. The Joint Rescue Coordination Centers and the Institute of Marine Research also have access to part of the information.
For detailed information please consult the agreements as appropriate.
For further information, please contact the Norwegian FMC on telephone +47 55 23 83 36.