UK restarts I-VMS rollout, device manufacturer decries unfair treatment
The United Kingdom Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is restarting the rollout of its planned inshore vessel monitoring system (I-VMS) after re-verifying the devices it has selected for the system are up to the task.
The MMO planned to make carrying an I-VMS device mandatory for all vessels under 12 meters – both domestic and foreign – fishing in English waters, with each vessel required to install one of four devices that the organization said were “type-approved” in 2021. The four devices approved were the Fulcrum Nemo, Succorfish SC2, Maritime Systems MS44, and Satlink Nano.
That rollout, however, hit a snag after feedback from users claimed two of the type-approved devices – the Satlink Nano and the Maritime Systems MS44 – didn’t actually meet the standards that the MMO called for.
Now, after the MMO commissioned more independent testing, the organization said it has verified that both the Fulcrum Nemo and Succorfish SC2 are up to the standards, excluding the two problematic devices for now. The government is planning a second rollout of mandatory I-VMS based on an installation schedule of port visits running from 4 September to 30 November 2023.
The organization said it will be contacting fishers directly with details of when engineers will be available for their port, and anyone fitted with one of the devices that are not MMO-approved “should not attempt to remove it themselves.”
MMO Chief Executive Tom McCormack said the organization remains committed to rolling out I-VMS to acquire data that will better allow fisheries to negotiate quotas and help the government with marine planning.
“That is why we are committed to delivering on our promise to support industry to be ready for I-VMS and ensure fishers are fully prepared before the Statutory Instrument is implemented in 2024,” McCormack said. “We are working with I-VMS device suppliers and installation engineers and are collectively focused on the roll-out plan from September through to November. Beginning with the targeting of ports with the highest numbers of vessels, we are aiming to make the installation process more convenient and efficient for fishers, helping to reduce disruption to fishing activity, and best supporting industry.”
The MMO added that it will cover costs of up to GBP 1,050 (USD 1,333, EUR 1,217) to support fishers in acquiring a suitable I-VMS device.
Maritime Systems, meanwhile, has alleged that having its device excluded, and viewed as no longer adequate, amounts to the MMO wasting GBP 650,000 (USD 825,000, EUR 754,000) in grant funding due to a “witch hunt by a public body.”
Maritime Systems’ MS44 device, the company said, accounted for 95 percent of all devices sold to meet the program’s requirements prior to the MMO’s sudden backpedal. It added that the MMO tested all four devices, and all four were found to have issues.
“However, only Maritime Systems has been singled out with revocation of the type approval for their I-VMS device. Two others have been allowed to fix their issues, and one has declined from continuing in the project due to lack of sales,” the company said.
According to Maritime Systems, the only failed feature on its devices …
Photo courtesy of Maritime Systems