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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Vessel monitoring system

One of the most important regulatory compliance tools for fisheries management worldwide is a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).

The use of VMS in the majority of Western Australia’s commercial fisheries allows the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to carry out real-time monitoring of commercial fishing fleets. This helps to ensure fishers are complying with management arrangements i.e. operating within their designated fishing areas and/or within their entitlement allocations.

Vessels operating within a VMS managed fishery are fitted with a device known as an automatic location communicator (ALC). The ALC is used to monitor the activity of vessels by transmitting reports containing information such as the geographical location, course and speed of the vessel.  ALCs can also be used to facilitate two-way communication between the vessel operator and DPIRD.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s VMS is comprised of specialised software designed to receive, analyse, and display position reports and messaging. This information is transmitted via ALC for access by specialist Vessel Monitoring Officers at our Operations Centre. Below is a basic diagram showing how the VMS system works. ​


Data from the VMS is used to: 

  1. Compliance monitoring of fishing zones; 
  2. Compliance monitoring of spatial, temporal or seasonal closures;
  3. Compliance monitoring of entitlement allocations;  
  4. Incident detection; 
  5. Intelligence and evidence provision for investigations; 
  6. Fisheries research and management; and 
  7. Providing assistance to Maritime Safety and Sea Search and Rescue organisations.​

Before you start fishing commercially it is essential to familiarise yourself with the legislation  for the relevant fishery you will be operating in, as well as the VMS requirements for that fishery, in order to avoid any unnecessary incidents or penalties. 

Please note the VMS is not a safety device; ensure you have all the correct safety measures in place as per your federal and state requirements.

In VMS-monitored fisheries, the correct process for installing and using an ALC​  must be followed. 

Contact us

For further information, please contact VMS at (08) 6163 0903 or email vms@dpird.wa.gov.au

Last modified: 25/08/2022 3:32 PM

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The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at www.fish.wa.gov.au.