Notice Regarding Loss of Vessel Monitoring Service

The McMurdo (formerly Boatracs) Omnitracs Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) operated by vessels with Greater Atlantic Region (GAR) permits will not be supported by its satellite provider after March 31, 2020. All current owners of the Omnitracs unit were notified via a letter from McMurdo dated December 19, 2019 about this issue.

What should you know if you own an Omnitracs unit?

This VMS unit must be replaced by April 1, 2020 or risk being out of compliance with VMS requirement regulations. The unit will not function with any other satellite provider.

A list of current Type-Approved VMS Units is available online.

Within the GAR, current Type-Approved units include:
Addvalue iFleetONE (***Newly Type-Approved)
SkyMate I1500 VMS
SkyMate m1600 VMS
Woods Hole Group – Triton Advanced

While McMurdo has a replacement unit called Omnicom that functions with the Iridium satellite network, this VMS unit is not yet approved for use in the GAR.

Vessel owner/operators with questions about their current service or the new Omnicom unit should contact McMurdo directly at 800-262-8722 or by email.

What is the status of Type-Approval of the replacement McMurdo unit?

We are working with McMurdo to test their new Omnicom VMS so that we can recommend it for approval. However, we cannot say how long this process will take, but have made review of this unit a priority.

VMS Reimbursement Guidance

Reimbursement is available for the purchasing of a new VMS unit if a vessel owner has never been reimbursed by NOAA for the purchase of a VMS unit. If a vessel owner has previously been reimbursed for the cost of a unit for that vessel, reimbursement is not available.

Vessel owner/operators with questions on NOAA’s VMS reimbursement program or their eligibility for VMS reimbursement should contact the OLE Helpdesk at 888-219-9228 or by email, http://[email protected]

VMS Power Down Guidance

Vessels that will not be actively fishing in the near future may request an exemption to have the VMS powered off until they are ready to replace the VMS. Vessels should not operate with a non-compliant VMS. Vessels that operate without an approved VMS could face enforcement action.

All vessels that hold VMS required permits cannot power the unit off unless they are on an authorized power down. Owners may request from the Northeast VMS Team to have the VMS powered off. Once a request is received, the Northeast VMS Team will issue a Letter of Exemption (LOE) that will authorize the VMS to be powered off.

Regulations implementing the requirements for the vessel monitoring system (VMS) within the Greater Atlantic Region allow for vessels to be exempt from the requirement to transmit the vessel’s location at all times if one or more of the following conditions are met:
The vessel will be continuously out of the water for more than 72 consecutive hours; or

A vessel with a valid multispecies limited access, scallop limited access, mackerel limited access, surfclam/ocean quahog, herring, longfin squid/butterfish moratorium or illex squid moratorium permit (only) remains at the dock/mooring and does not engage in any fisheries for a minimum period of 30 consecutive days.

Vessels that only hold an LAGC scallop permit for their VMS requirement may submit the Power Down declaration directly with their VMS unit and do not require an LOE.

General VMS Questions?

Contact: the Northeast VMS Team at 978-281-9213