April 2023 sees the introduction of new technology to monitor the inshore fishing fleet operating within the territorial waters of the Isle of Man.
The data collected by the technology will signal a step change in the ability to monitor and manage fishing activity and ensure its sustainability.
Following a consultation in 2022, the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) has made new regulations to require under-12 m vessels to have an ‘inshore vessel monitoring system’, or ‘iVMS’, which records the position, heading, and speed of fishing vessels.
The systems transmit data every three minutes, meaning that the Department can monitor fishing activity within the Island’s territorial waters in near real-time. In their response to the consultation, stakeholders were unanimously behind the proposal to introduce iVMS requirements.
While larger (over 12 metres) vessels have been subject to similar requirements for some years, as well as smaller vessels participating in the Manx king scallop and queen scallop fisheries, this new system will extend and improve the data collection for smaller vessels.
Ahead of the regulations coming into effect, DEFA has supported inshore vessels that are registered in the Island by procuring and supplying iVMS devices, which are being handed out to locally-registered vessels free of charge, and which come with two years free ‘airtime’.
The high-resolution spatial data will assist DEFA, scientists, and the industry in their collaborative approach to deliver sustainable, responsive and evidence-based fisheries management in the Island’s territorial waters.
It will also assist local stakeholders in demonstrating the value of the Island’s territorial waters to their businesses as other industries begin to scope the territorial waters for other commercial interests, such as offshore wind.
Photo: Darren Purves