NMFS News Release

Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930

Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS)

Date: October 29, 1998

Dear Sea Scallop Permit Holder:

This is to inform you that the National Marine Fisheries Service has approved an amendment changing the vessel monitoring system (VMS) operating requirements specified at 50 CFR 648.9(c). Under current regulations VMS units required in the Atlantic sea scallop fishery must be fully operational at all times and transmit a signal indicating a vessel's accurate position at least every hour, 24 hours a day, without interruption, throughout the year. This action allows the VMS unit to be turned off if the vessel is out of the water continuously for more than 72 consecutive hours for repair and maintenance, provided the vessel obtains and complies with a letter of exemption.

Vessel owners may apply for a letter of exemption from the VMS operating requirements by sending a written request to the Regional Administrator and providing the following: Sufficient information to determine that the vessel will be out of the water for more than 72 continuous hours for repair and maintenance; the location of the vessel during the time an exemption is sought; and the exact time period for which an exemption is needed (i.e., the time the VMS will be turned off and turned on again).

For further information on the VMS exemption program, please call Linda Galvin (978-281-9230).

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