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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Vessel monitoring system

​Over the past 15 years, one of the most important developments for fishery managers and for monitoring compliance with fishery rules worldwide has been the emergence of vessel monitoring systems (VMS).

The use of VMS in most of Western Australia’s commercial fisheries allows the Department of Fisheries to carry out real-time monitoring of commercial fishing fleets. This helps to ensure fishers are working in their designated fishing areas and/or within their catch entitlement allocations.

Vessels operating within a fishery requiring VMS are fitted with a device known as an automatic location communicator (ALC). The ALC is used to track the location of a boat by transmitting information such as the geographical position, course and speed of the boat.  

At the heart of the Department of Fisheries' vessel monitoring system lies specialised software designed to receive, analyse, display and record position reports and messaging via satellites. This information is transmitted by the ALCs via a satellite to the Department's Marine Operations Centre in Fremantle. Below is a basic diagram showing how the VMS system works. 

Diagram of how VMS works

Data from the VMS is used to: 

  • monitor compliance to catch entitlement allocations;
  • monitor fishing zones;
  • monitor adherence to area and seasonal closures;
  • detect incidents;
  • provide intelligence and evidence for investigations;
  • inform our research and management branches; and
  • assist safety and rescue organisations.

Before you start fishing commercially it is essential to become familiar with the legislation related to the relevant fishery and VMS to avoid any unnecessary incidents or penalties.

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

Contact us

For more information, call the VMS officers at our Fremantle office or email

Last modified: 17/04/2014 4:15 PM

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