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Photo: Scanfishphoto.Photo: Scanfishphoto

Electronic reporting systems for fishing vessels

19.07.2013 // Electronic reporting of catch and activity data by fishing vessels and position reporting is a vital part of Norwegian resource management and in particular monitoring, control and surveillance. Electronic reporting is also important to obtain accurate catch statistics.

Position reporting (VMS)

Since 2005 all Norwegian fishing vessel over 24 meters have been required to report their positions at sea. This requirement was expanded to cover all Norwegian fishing vessels over 15 meters from 1 July 2010. This means that around 700 Norwegian fishing vessels now have vessel monitoring systems installed on board. This equipment automatically transmits the vessel’s position, course and speed once an hour, 24 hours a day, regardless of where the vessel is located.

Foreign fishing vessels over 24 meters fishing in Norwegian waters are also subject to position reporting. However, a bilateral agreement between Norway and EU has required mutual tracking of vessels above 15 meters since 2005.

Norway currently has mutual tracking agreements with the European Union, Russia, Iceland, the Faeroe Islands and Greenland.

Electronic Reporting System (ERS)

Since 1 January 2011 all Norwegian fishing vessels over 15 meters have been required to report catch and activity data electronically. The electronic reporting system (ERS) has the benefit that data previously recorded in the paper logbook now are available for inspectors and managers in near real time.

Norway have entered agreements to exchange catch and activity data electronically with the European Union, Iceland and Russia. The agreement with the European Union is fully implemented meaning that Norwegian fishing vessels also can report catch and activity data electronically when fishing in EU waters. The agreements with Iceland and Russia are intended to be fully implemented during 2014. 

Flag State Principle

Experience has shown that the only practical solution is to apply the Flag State Principle when exchanging electronic data from fishing vessels between cooperating parties. According to this principle, Norwegian fishing vessels transmit electronic catch and activity data and position reports to the Norwegian Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) at the Directorate of Fisheries. Thereafter, the Norwegian FMC forward the reports to the relevant coastal state’s or RFMO’s FMC. In the same way reports are transmitted to the Directorate of Fisheries when foreign vessels operate in waters under Norwegian jurisdiction.

Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC)

To fulfil international commitments Norway has established a “Fisheries Monitoring Centre” (FMC) at the Directorate of Fisheries in Bergen. The main task of the Norwegian FMC is to receive data from fishing vessels and to forward these data to coastal states or inspecting bodies. Furthermore, the FMC monitor and control that the different reporting requirements are fulfilled by Norwegian fishing vessels and by foreign vessels operating in Norwegian waters.

The data stored at the Norwegian FMC is only made available to authorised personnel that are bound by the Official Secrets Act. Data concerning individual fishing vessels will not be generally available. Neither will the data be available to other fishing vessels. Only the Norwegian Search and Rescue Centres have access to tracking details in addition to authorised personnel in the Directorate of Fisheries and the Coast Guard.


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