[Coral-List] Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) or Automatic Identification System (AIS) and MPA use

Duncan Vaughan duncanvaughan at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Sep 13 13:52:44 EDT 2007

Regarding your query.  Traditional VMS/satellite monitoring is expensive both in set up and ongoing costs - i.e. airtime and hardwear.  However you should investigate using AIS (Automatic Identification System). Following 911 virtually all large commercial ships have this system installed (tankers certainly do), it basically utilises a normal VHF signal and pings out the vessels GPS lat, long, rate of turn, vessel name etc - the master of the vessel also must enter on the system the status of the vessel location etc e.g. anchored - in fact they should already be doing this.  
As most large commercial vessel now have this in place through legislative requirements regardless of nationality all you need to do is to install a VHF land based terminal connected to a computer which can store on a hard drive the historical movements of vessels that come into the range of your antenna (great evidence for court) - you may not even have to install an antenna as quiet often harbour masters already have this system in place to monitor shipping.  For smaller vessels you can install a type B transmitter for several hundred pounds - this has been devised for the US leisure market and the price and availability of this technology is falling rapidly.  The beauty of the AIS system is that you can also designate no go zones linked to pagers/cell phones etc that will go off if a vessel enters that area and you can respond accordingly.  
As you can record the activity of the ship i.e. its rate of turn and speed you can also determine what it is doing - it is a great relatively inexpensive tool for managing MPAs.  You may need to subscribe to an AIS provider - I am currently investigating AIS Live  but there are others - this way the whole set up process is easier.  
One thing to bear in mind is that as the vessels signal is sent via VHF you may have to consider Freedom of Information Act/Human Rights Act/Data Protection Act implications if dealing with commercial fishing vessels as they generally do not like competitors knowing their location and hence fishing grounds - however the easy way around this is if you are operating in a licenced fishery you make it a licence condition to have the technology on board and make it an offence to leave port without an operating system.  We are currently investigating this technology for the management of MPAs and in particular No Take Zones - i.e. no take, no reason to be in that area.
I hope this information helps.
Duncan Vaughan MSc MIBiol CBiol
Deputy Clerk & Fishery Officer
Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee
6 North Lynn Business Village
Bergen Way
King's Lynn
email: duncanvaughan at esfjc.co.uk
Tel: 01553 775321

> A filed study has been carried out into the impact of anchoring
> by tankers using the oil storage facility on the island. The rapid
> assessment survey concentrated on relative proportions of coral cover and
> algae/rubble cover, and found that coral cover in the anchoring areas, and
> more importantly some distance outside of the designated zones, was zero.

> The recommendations of the report include the development and installation
> of a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) to consolidate and improve the
> effectiveness of the paper based monitoring already carried out by the
> storage facility. It is hoped that such a system will enable the Marine
> Park, Harbour Master and head pilots from the storage facility to monitor
> traffic, prevent illegal anchoring on reefs and enforce the legislation that
> exists.

> Does anyone have experience with the development and maintenance of a VMS on
> a small scale and as and MPA management tool? If so, what are the main
> stages of the development of a system, and how much did it cost?

A couple of simple and inexpensive solutions come to mind based on my
experience as a NOAA Commissioned Officer on oceanographic ships.

1.  Land-based range markers: that ships could use to determine if they were
in the safe anchoring zone (a visual position fixing method).  These would
be lighted for night operations.

2.  Radar ranges and bearings: by the Harbor Master to confirm ships
location before anchoring.  Ship/Pilot would radio into Harbor Master when
in position to drop anchor to receive permission to drop anchor  (ship/pilot
uses range markers, GPS, and radar to fix position).  Harbor Master then
confirms on his radar that ship is in safe location.

Please contact me if your VMS needs more extensive operational capabilities.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,

Dr. Stephen C. Jameson, President
Coral Seas Inc. - Integrated Coastal Zone Management
4254 Hungry Run Road, The Plains, VA  20198-1715  USA
Office:  703-754-8690, Fax:  703-754-9139
Email:  sjameson at coralseas.com
Web Site:  http://www.coralseas.com

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