IOM Launches Vessel Monitoring System Project to Improve International Compliance and Strengthen Maritime Security in Sri Lanka
Colombo – IOM has launched a project to introduce a comprehensive Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) covering 4200 Multi-day Fishing Vessels (MFV) in partnership with Sri Lanka’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR). This 36-month, multi-million dollar project is funded by the Government of Australia, through the Department of Home Affairs, as part of its broader development support to the Government of Sri Lanka.
H.E. Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, emphasized the importance of the monitoring system to Sri Lanka’s maritime security, which is situated at a unique geographical location. He extended his gratitude to the Government of Australia for its continued and unwavering support to the Sri Lankan Government in his remarks as the Chief Guest of the official launching event of the project held on 16 July at the Presidential Secretariat. The event was attended by the Foreign Minister, Minister of Fisheries, State Minister of Fisheries, Australian High Commissioner, IOM Chief of Mission, secretaries from relevant ministries and other senior government officials.
The VMS is a fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) tool. VMS transponder fixed on MFV will automatically transmit global position reports and ancillary information, which includes unique vessel identification, position, heading and speed, to the DFAR Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) periodically via satellite during deep sea operations or through mobile communication network when the vessel is closer to the shore. VMS will allow the control station to track a vessel up to any distance and facilitate two-way communication. It enables the vessels to immediately alert the FMC of irregular vessel movements and emergencies, enabling the FMC to take necessary control measures or conduct effective search and rescue operations at sea.
Installation of a VMS and monitoring MFV movements is a compliance requirement under the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) resolution 15/03 and is imperative to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices, ensure vessel safety, provide emergency assistance. In addition, the system helps to counter exploitation of the MFVs for human smuggling, drug trafficking and other transnational maritime crime. “The expansion of the Vessel Monitoring System comes on the eve of 75 years of bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Australia, and will support fisheries livelihoods, vessel safety at sea, and counter transnational crime, including people, smuggling,” said H.E. Mr. David Holly, High Commissioner of Australia.
From an economic perspective, the fisheries sector plays a vital role in poverty reduction and the economic development of the country, contributing to about 1.3 per cent of the country’s GDP. The backbone of the industry is the MFV fleet. These vessels harvest fish resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and international waters and travel distances of up to 1,500 Nautical miles, at times engaging in month-long fishing operations at sea.
“Implementation of VMS project is yet another step towards strengthening maritime border management and realization of Sri Lanka’s Integrated Border Management Strategy and IOM is proud of this partnership with two of its important member states,” noted Mr. Sarat Dash, IOM’ Chief of Mission speaking during the event. For more information, please contact Shantha Kulasekara, Head-Migration Governance, IOM Sri Lanka, at Tel.: +94 11 532 53 00, Email: email@example.com