NMFS News Release

Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930

VMS Program Operating Requirements

Date: February 23, 1999

Dear Sea Scallop Permit Holder:

This letter serves as a reminder that all fishing vessels participating in the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) program must comply with operating requirements specified at 50 C.F.R. 648.9(c). VMS units required in the Atlantic sea scallop fishery must be fully operational at all times and must transmit a signal indicating a vessel's accurate position at least every hour, 24 hours a day throughout the year, unless the vessel is authorized in writing by the Regional Administrator to use the DAS call-in program or is exempted pursuant to 50 C.F.R. 648.9(c)(2). Please note that the regulations at 50 C.F.R 648.9(d) state that a vessel that fails to report on an hourly basis will incur a day-at-sea, or fraction thereof, unless a preponderance of evidence shows that the failure to transmit was due to an unavoidable malfunction or disruption of the transmission.

A failure to transmit a signal in accordance with the above-cited regulations may subject you to civil penalties, permit sanctions, and forfeiture of your catch or vessel. Additionally, failure to transmit a VMS signal at least hourly, while at sea or at port, shall result in your vessel incurring a DAS, or fraction thereof, for the duration of the non-reporting. To avoid incurring the DAS or portion thereof, you will be required to submit evidence showing the failure to transmit a signal was due to an unavoidable malfunction or disruption.

For further information on the VMS program and exemptions, call Linda Galvin, VMS Program Manager, at 978-281-9230.

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