Vessel position reporting is mandatory for vessels under 12m carrying hydraulic dredges and fishing for razor clams in Irish waters. The number of vessels requiring iVMS increased in 2016 as new razor clam fishing areas were opened and as fishing effort in the north Irish Sea increases. Secondly risk mitigation plans, developed to protect sensitive habitats from towed bottom gears, including hydraulic dredging, involve the creation of exclusion zones or areas closed to such fishing. iVMS was required to monitor fishing activity surrounding these closed areas.
This project funded the deployment of iVMS on an additional 30 vessels in 2016. Data is managed within the Marine Institute VMS database. Real time visualisation of vessel position is through applications already developed by suppliers (AST Marine Sciences and Succorfish M2M UK) of the systems contracted to the MI.
The project had a 1 year duration and project work was carried out in 2016.
From 2015, a pilot study on the deployment, operation, data provision, reliability and costs of implementing VMS on vessels under 12m in length has been ongoing. Vessels fishing for razor clams are required to have VMS on board irrespective of vessel size. In 2016 the programme continued and expanded. Vessel position and speed data were collected at 10 minute frequency from over 70 vessels in the north Irish Sea, from an additional 10 vessels in the south Irish Sea and from 3 dredging vessels on the west coast. A further 4 potting vessels were contracted to engage in a broader study on electronic catch and effort reporting and on the use of gear in gear out (GIGO) sensors to indicate the actual positions of deployment and recovery of fishing gears.
The implementation of the project involved outsourcing of supply, installation and maintenance to the equipment suppliers through a service level agreement (SLA) between suppliers and the MI. Protocols for maintaining the SLA were developed during the project. Data on vessel positions could be visualised in real time by the MI and SFPA and any other licenced users (fishermen) through an interface which operated on computer and mobile devices.
Data shows generally expected patterns where landings and iVMS effort are correlated, total effort in different fishing areas reflect the size and stock abundance in these areas and no fishing was verified during closed seasons (June). Maps of the data in the north Irish Sea shows a continuous band of fishing from north Dundalk Bay south to Malahide. The data have been used to design fishery assessment and environmental impact surveys.
Separate work was undertaken with a second supplier (Succorfish UK) on the south east and west coasts.
Catch reports for trips and operations were submitted voluntarily by some vessels demonstrating the feasibility of using mobile phone applications on board the vessels. Two methods were used. The Succorfish catch app enables the skipper to log and report catch by species, by trip or operation and also to include other environmental data and observations. This app was available for iOS only. Separately the Fulcrum app allowed the MI to develop various forms for catch reporting and to distribute these forms to fishermen’s mobile phones. The Institute created user licences for fishermen to enable this. The GPS position of the phone is re-laid with the catch report but this is only relevant if catch is logged in real time. The Fulcrum licensing arrangements and flexibility in the design of forms provides an option to customise data acquisition for different fisheries.
• Data collection on catch, fishing effort and distribution for specific gears for vessels <12m
• Evaluation of fishing activity in relation to Natura sites
• Mapping and visualisation of fishing footprint of selected gears
• Optimisation of data capturing methodology of iVMS
• Design of fishery assessment and environmental impact surveys