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New Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Software for Vessel Owners - SkyMate-equipped Vessels

Sustainable  Fisheries Division
(978) 281 –9315
June 8, 2017

Effective Date: July 1, 2017

The SkyMate VMS unit installed on your vessel requires a software update to comply with recent regulatory changes.  You must install and begin using the new software for trips as of July 1, 2017.  You may not be compliant with the regulations if your vessel leaves port on or after this date with the older software.  

Your VMS vendor, SkyMate, will mail you written instructions for updating to the new software. Between June 15 and June 30, please update your software and begin the process by connecting your tablet to an internet connection. Please take the following steps: (1) Download the SkyMate update to your tablet from the internet; (2) Upload the update to your unit from your tablet. The process takes approximately 15 minutes. 

After loading the software and reconnecting your tablet to the SkyMate VMS, please confirm that you now have the current software by logging in, selecting “VMS”, and then “Setup”. Under “VMS Configuration Parameters” be sure that the “VMS NE Forms Release Number” is “20170501”.

We recommend that you send a ‘Declare Out of Fishery – Transit’ declaration that alerts us that you have updated the new software. Please remember to send the appropriate activity declaration from your SkyMate VMS prior to your next trip.  For any questions, please contact SkyMate at (866) 759-6283 or via email at

Quick Reference to VMS Software Declarations and Forms



Declare Out of Fishery 

Multispecies Catch


Multispecies Trip Start Hail


Multispecies Trip End Hail


Monkfish Trip Limit DAS Overage Adj.

Multispecies Common Pool

Scallop Daily Catch

Multispecies Sector

Scallop Prelanding Notification

Scallop - LAGC & Limited Access

Herring Daily Catch

Squid - Longfin & Illex

Herring Prelanding Notification

Surfclam & Ocean Quahog

Mackerel & Squid Daily Catch

Power Down

Mackerel Prelanding Notification


RSA & EFP Trip Start Hail

RSA & EFP Trip End Hail

Summary of Declaration Changes
  1. Multispecies & Monkfish. You no longer need to call into the IVR system if you declare the use of scallop days-at-sea for trips using trawl gear. 
  1. Scallop. You will notice several changes, including, (1) a new requirement that you declare your gear for LAGC trips; (2) a new declaration for the Elephant Trunk Flex Access Area (codes: SES-SAA-EFSXXX; SES-SCG-EFSXXX) and (3) reporting whether RSA quota will or will not be harvested is no longer optional and must now be reported.

Note: Please remember that the scallop declaration form has a top section when you are declaring a general category (LAGC) trip, and a bottom section when declaring a limited access trip. 

  1. Surfclam & Quahog. We have added a third step that asks you to select an open scallop access area only if you are fishing in that access area and retaining more than 40 lb of scallop IFQ quota.  

        Note: If you do not declare into an access area, you may not land more than 40 lb of scallops, and you may not land any scallops from an area after it has closed to LAGC IFQ vessels. Please remember to send the scallop prelanding notification from sea for any trip in which you land scallops. 

  1. Herring. Reporting whether RSA quota will or will not be harvested is no longer optional and must now be reported.
  1. Squid. Illex is now a VMS-required species. You must select your intent to target either longfin or Illex squid if you intend to land more than 2,500 lb of longfin or 10,000 lb of Illex on a trip. We removed the question about harvesting RSA quota since that program is not available.  

        Note:  Please remember that you should leave the gear question blank if you do not intend to retain any herring.

  1. Declare Out of Fishery (DOF) & Power Down (PWD). For DOF trips, you will now select the gear you intend to use when fishing commercially under the DOF-CML declaration. The Power Down instruction text has been revised; however, the same rule applies – only vessels with LAGC scallop permits and no other VMS-required permits may send the PWD declaration when in port. 

Summary of Reports Changes

  1. All Reports. We changed the Operator instruction field to specify an ‘8-digit’ number (please do not enter the vessel’s permit number).  
  1. Multispecies Catch. We made minor changes to the instruction text for notifying NMFS when you switch to the use of smaller mesh to fish under a sector exemption/option, including the Redfish Exemption, the SNE Small Mesh Exemption, and the Extra-Large Mesh Gillnet option in the Southern New England (SNE) and/or Inshore Georges Bank (IGB) broad stock areas.   

        Note:  Please remember that you only need to send this special catch report with the smaller mesh selection once at the time of changing your mesh size.

  1. Multispecies Trip Start Hail. We changed the Sector Exemption(s) field to include selections for the (1) SNE Small Mesh Exemption, and (2) Extra-Large Mesh Gillnet option in the SNE and/or IGB broad stock area.    
  1. Scallop Prelanding Notification. We clarified the instruction text for vessels with an LAGC IFQ or NGOM scallop permit. We added a new field that asks you to enter the total amount (lbs) of all other fish kept (excluding scallops).
  1. Mackerel & Squid Catch. We added a field for you to enter the amount (lbs) of any Illex squid kept.  In the ‘Total Fish Kept’ field, you will enter the amount of all species kept including mackerel and squid.  
  1. RSA & EFP Trip End Hail. We added a question that asks whether you will be landing both commercial and RSA quota on your trip.

        Note:  Please remember that you must also send the multispecies trip end hail from your VMS when declared into the Monkfish fishery using both monkfish and multispecies days-at-sea. In addition, you must also send the scallop pre-landing or herring pre-landing report from your VMS when declared into these species.

Reminder of VMS Requirements

  1. VMS Operator Instructions. You will find views and information about how and when to send your required declarations and reports. These instructions are available on the VMS web page at (under ‘Instructions and Forms’). If you prefer a paper copy, please contact the VMS Team.
  1. Contacting the VMS Team. If you have questions about this new VMS software or your VMS reporting requirements, please call us at (978) 281-9213, option 2. On our webpage, contact information is available at:
For small entity compliance guides, this bulletin complies with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996.  This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Greater Atlantic Region.