Cornwall fisherman questions ‘absurd’ tracking system for small boats
The government has said it plans for all fishing boats registered in the EU, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to be required to host a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) to fish in English waters. Despite there being no timetable for this regulation to be introduced, according to the BBC, it is expected to be required by January 2022.
It is already mandatory for vessels over 12m to have a VMS on board allowing regulators to monitor a boat’s location, speed, course, and other data. However, by next year, craft under 12m (39ft) are expected to have these systems too, with the government saying it would improve the “quality of data” from boats.
Johnny Murt, a crab fisherman who operates out of Padstow, Cornwall, called the requirement “absurd”, and expressed frustration at the potential cost of installation and upkeep for small-scale fishing vessels.
“Even little cove boats with no wheelhouses are going to have to have Vessel Monitoring Systems, it’s absurd,” says Murt. “I just don’t see why they need to know where you are for every second you are at sea.”
According to the BBC, environment secretary George Eustice said the system was about “improving the quality of the data” on the movement of inshore vessels, as well as their ability to record catches.
“Having more reliable data like that is actually the key to having a more pragmatic approach to the way we manage these inshore fisheries,” says Eustice.
Mr Eustice, who is also the MP for Camborne and Redruth in Cornwall, explained “licensing conditions” could be imposed on fishing boats from the EU and other UK nations: “We’re doing that and it remains a difficult set of negotiations because of the new requirements we’re putting on those vessels.”
However, he emphasised fisheries is a devolved issue and “different parts of the UK will take different approaches”.