Following the previous UK tender success, AST-EMA consortium supplied equipment for the new Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and Electronic Reporting System (ERS) for UK Fisheries, based on the BlueTraker VMS, to be tested by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and UKFA.
Extensive testing was conducted by the UKFA during the second half of 2012, which included all system functionalities, particularly the advanced embedded geo fences and their remote management. Tests were not limited to a controlled laboratory environment but were also performed at sea on vessels undertaking their regular fishing activities.
Following the successful completion of Acceptance Tests, the AST-EMA consortium was officially awarded Type Approval in January 2013. Official Type approval confirms BlueTraker® VMS to be the best choice for the UK fisheries’ new VMS and ERS Systems. The installations of the first 330 above deck satellite terminals will follow in the first quarter of 2013.
The BlueTraker VMS is the latest and most reliable generation of marine grade satellite terminals especially developed for the monitoring of fishing vessels in European waters. In addition to standard and secure positional data outputs and bidirectional communication, the BlueTraker VMS terminal incorporates several new and unique features.
The terminal has an integrated design in which all electronic circuitry, antennas, GPS receiver, GPRS and satellite communication channels as well as back-up rechargeable batteries are housed in one compact unit above the vessel’s deck. All EU reporting data is transmitted via an Iridium satellite based communication service (SCS). The GPRS channel is primarily used for inshore reporting, which is formatted to conform to national and inshore requirements.
An important feature of the BlueTraker VMS terminal is the dynamic reporting. Up to 100 (one hundred) geographical areas (polygons and associated rules) in the form of geo fences can be remotely uploaded, edited, activated/deactivated etc. for each and every BlueTraker terminal. Pre-defined National and EU control area co-ordinates (geo fences), are uploaded from the land based servers over the air. EU geo fence crossing and VMS positions are transmitted through the Iridium Satellite Communication Services (SCS), while National geo fence entering or exiting and associated VMS positions are transmitted either through SCS or GPRS communication channels - depending upon the rules set for each or every BlueTraker VMS terminal.
Another outstanding feature of the BlueTraker VMS terminal is the inclusion of a fail-safe Alert button. This facility enables crew members to send distress alerts directly from the terminal, even in the event of a power failure onboard the vessel.
Also included in the terminal is the ability to transmit UK Electronic Logbook Reports. Additional innovative functionality is incorporated in the satellite terminal by implementing CAN bus networking, allowing a virtually unlimited number of on-board fishing gears’ hydraulic switches to be monitored from the Fisheries Monitoring Centre. This enables the authority to automatically and precisely assess the fishing activities for each and every vessel in the fleet.