Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
On December 2, 2011, NMFS published a final rule (76 FR 75492) and type approval notice (76 FR 75523) updating VMS requirements in Atlantic HMS fisheries. The final rule required that as of March 1, 2012 all HMS vessels subject to VMS requirements have a type-approved E-MTU VMS unit capable of two-way communication and installed by a qualified marine electrician install. Further, the final rule required vessels to declare target species, fishing gear possessed, and location/timing of landing using the E-MTU VMS unit and to provide hourly position reports using VMS units starting two hours prior to leaving port and at all times away from port, effective March 1, 2012.
In late February 2012, we became aware of issues that would affect the ability of fishermen to obtain the required units and to comply with the December 2011 rule. Due to these unforeseen circumstances that would have limited some vessel operators' ability to comply fully with the E-MTU VMS requirements, NMFS notified provided notice on February 29, 2012, that HMS vessels could use either old MTUs or new E-MTUs and were not required to provide hail in/hail out declarations specifying target species, gear possessed onboard, and location and timing of landing. However, no new installation of MTUs were permitted, any installations of E-MTUs were required to be done by a qualified marine electrician, and vessels were required to provide hourly position reports using VMS units starting two hours prior to leaving port and at all times away from port.
The issues that would have prevented some vessels from fully complying with the requirements have now been resolved and NMFS is announcing that MTU VMS units will no longer be allowed after December 31, 2012.
On any fishing trip beginning on or after January 1, 2013, HMS vessels subject to VMS requirements must have an E-MTU that was installed by a qualified marine electrician and must provide hail in/hail out declarations specifying target species, gear possessed onboard, and location and timing of landing, as specified in the December 2011 final rule. This Notice should allow sufficient time for all HMS vessel owners who have not already replaced their MTU with an E-MTU to do so prior to January 1, 2013.
16 U.S.C. 971