(a)Applicability. To facilitate enforcement of time/area and fishery closures, an owner or operator of a commercial vessel permitted, or required to be permitted, to fish for Atlantic HMS under § 635.4 and that fishes with pelagic or bottom longline or gillnet gear, is required to install a NMFS-approved enhanced mobile transmitting unit (E-MTU) vessel monitoring system (VMS) on board the vessel and operate the VMS unit under the circumstances listed in paragraphs (a)(1) thorugh (a)(4) of this section. For purposes of this section, a NMFS-approved E-MTU VMS is one that has been approved by NMFS as satisfying its type approval listing for E-MTU VMS units. Those requirements are published in the Federal Register and may be updated periodically.
(1) Whenever the vessel is away from port with pelagic longline gear on board;
(2) Whenever a vessel issued a directed shark LAP, is away from port with bottom longline gear on board, is located between 33°00′ N. lat. and 36°30′ N. lat., and the mid-Atlantic shark closed area is closed as specified in § 635.21(d)(1); or
(3) Whenever a vessel, issued a directed shark LAP, is away from port with a gillnet on board from November 15-April 15.
(4) A vessel is considered to have pelagic longline gear on board, for the purposes of this section, when gear as specified at § 635.21(c) is on board. A vessel is considered to have bottom longline gear on board, for the purposes of this section, when gear as specified at § 635.21(d) is on board. A vessel is considered to have gillnet gear on board, for the purposes of this section, when gillnet, as defined in § 600.10, is on board a vessel that has been issued a shark LAP.
(b)Hardware specifications. The VMS hardware must be approved by NMFS and must be able to perform all NMFS required functions. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification listing the specifications for approved VMS units. As necessary, NMFS will make additions and/or amendments to the VMS hardware type approval list to account for changes in specifications or new products offered by manufacturers. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification listing such additions and/or amendments.
(c)Communications specifications. The communications service provider must be approved by NMFS and must be able to provide all NMFS required functions. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification listing the specifications for approved VMS communications service providers. As necessary, NMFS will make additions and/or amendments to the VMS communications service providers type approval list to account for changes in specifications or new services offered by communications providers. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification listing such additions and/or amendments.
(d)Installation and activation. As of March 1, 2012, only an E-MTU VMS that has been approved by NMFS for Atlantic HMS Fisheries may be used. As of January 1, 2012, any VMS unit must be installed by a qualified marine electrician. When any NMFS-approved E-MTU VMS is installed and activated or reinstalled and reactivated, the vessel owner or operator must—
(1) Follow procedures indicated on a NMFS-approved installation and activation checklist for the applicable fishery, which is available from NMFS;
(2) Submit to NMFS a statement certifying compliance with the checklist, as prescribed on the checklist; and,
(3) Submit to NMFS the checklist, completed by a qualified marine electrician. Vessels fishing prior to NMFS' receipt of the completed checklist and compliance certification statement will be in violation of the VMS requirement.
(1) Owners or operators of vessels subject to requirements specified in paragraph (a) of this section, must activate the VMS unit to submit automatic position reports at least 2 hours prior to leaving port and continuing until the vessel returns to port. While at sea, the unit must always be on, operating and reporting without interruption, and NMFS enforcement must receive position reports without interruption. No person may interfere with, tamper with, alter, damage, disable, or impede the operation of a VMS, or attempt any of the same. Vessels fishing outside the geographic area of operation of the installed VMS will be in violation of the VMS requirement.
(2) At least 2 hours prior to departure for each trip, a vessel owner or operator must initially report to NMFS any HMS the vessel will target on that trip and the specific type(s) of fishing gear, using NMFS-defined gear codes, that will be on board the vessel. If the vessel owner or operator participates in multiple HMS fisheries, or possesses multiple fishing gears on board the vessel, the vessel owner or operator must submit multiple electronic reports to NMFS. If, during the trip, the vessel switches to a gear type or species group not reported on the initial declaration, another declaration must be submitted before this fishing begins. This information must be reported to NMFS using an attached VMS terminal.
(3) A vessel owner or operator must report advance notice of landing to NMFS. For the purposes of this paragraph, landing means to arrive at a dock, berth, beach, seawall, or ramp. The vessel owner or operator is responsible for ensuring that NMFS is contacted at least 3 hours in advance of landing regardless of trip duration. This information must be reported to NMFS using an attached VMS terminal.
(f)Interruption. When the vessel operator is aware that transmission of automatic position reports has been interrupted, or when notified by NMFS that automatic position reports are not being received, the vessel operator must contact NMFS and follow the instructions given. Such instructions may include but are not limited to manually communicating to a location designated by NMFS the vessel's position or returning to port until the VMS is operable.
(g)Repair and replacement. After a fishing trip during which interruption of automatic position reports has occurred, the vessel's owner or operator must have a qualified marine electrician replace or repair the VMS unit prior to the vessel's next trip. Repair or reinstallation of a VMS unit or installation of a replacement, including change of communications service provider, shall be in accordance with the installation and activation requirements specified at § 635.69(d) of this part.
(h)Access. As a condition to obtaining a LAP for Atlantic swordfish, sharks, or tunas, all vessel owners or operators using pelagic or bottom longline or gillnet gear, subject to the VMS provisions of this section must allow NMFS, the USCG, and their authorized officers and designees access to the vessel's position data obtained from the VMS at the time of or after its transmission to the vendor or receiver, as the case may be.