Sometimes technology overtakes legislation. By next year all EU fishing boats that are obliged to carry VMS will also be fitted with AIS. Many vessels have already installed this system which transmits the position and identity of the ship to nearby vessels in order to avoid collisions.
However, not only nearby vessels pick up the broadcast signals. They can also be picked up by shore-based receivers and by orbiting satellites. Unlike VMS there are no bureaucratic procedures to be followed in obtaining the information. It can be purchased on the open market. And unlike VMS, not only flag state and coastal vessels are visible. We can look at what is happening on the high seas or in the waters of third countries. And we are not limited to fishing vessels. We can see reefers and factory ships. Last year a suspected factory ship was tracked all the way from the Pacific through the Panama Canal to Las Palmas. Another was followed along the coast of West Africa.
The system is inexpensive. The on-board component for fishermen is cheap because it does not require point-to-point satellite communications. The satellite technology itself is not sophisticated.
Examples of the capability of this technology will be shown at the lunchtime conference by two service providers and by a consultant who has been analysing fishing for the World Wildlife Fund.
Rue Joseph II, 99, Room 00/53 12.20-14.00