VMS Layer Now Available in Fishing Activity Map

On World Ocean Day in June 2017, we partnered with Minister Susi Pudjiastuti and the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to publicly release Indonesian Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data. This was the first ever public release of VMS data.

Previously accessible only in a dedicated public workspace on our site, this data is now available as a layer in the Global Fishing Watch fishing activity map.

What’s the value of this public VMS release? Indonesia’s VMS data includes nearly 5,000 medium-sized commercial fishing vessels that are not required to carry AIS, and are therefore not reliably trackable by any other means. Their inclusion in the Global Fishing Watch database reveals commercial fishing in vast areas of the ocean where it had previously been invisible. For governments such as Indonesia, sharing VMS data with us assists in better monitoring of territorial waters and demonstrates their commitment to transparency.

The overlap between our AIS data and the Indonesian VMS data is less than five percent. Nonetheless, in those rare instances where the same vessel is tracked in both data sets, the addition of VMS data helps us better track the vessel than if we were using the AIS data alone. For those vessels using AIS and VMS, their fishing activity will be duplicated in our map, represented once in each layer.

Indonesian VMS fishing activity highlighted in yellow, AIS fishing is in blue. 

Global Fishing Watch supports complete transparency through the public exchange of VMS data would assist countries in better monitoring their territorial waters and facilitate cooperative regional surveillance and enforcement. Increased transparency will benefit the oceans and the fishing industry by improving management decisions and strategies, and providing market benefits to seafood suppliers through validation of product source.

As part of our effort to increase transparency, we are partnering with the Peruvian Ministry of Production to make Peruvian VMS data public through our platform early next year, and have begun conversations with other nations to do the same. Global Fishing Watch is committed to processing and publishing VMS data from any nation committed to taking this same bold step toward transparency in what remains the among the most opaque sectors of the global economy.

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