An ambitious effort to install satellite-based Vehicle Monitoring Systems (VMS) for small fishing vessels (less than 20m) across the country’s coastline in the aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai attacks is still to be rolled out.



  • Recently at the Tokyo Summit of QUAD grouping, the member countries (Australia, India, Japan and USA) announced an ambitious Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) initiative.
  • The initiative is intended to track “dark shipping” and build a “faster, wider, and more accurate maritime picture of near-real-time activities in partners’ waters”.
  • This will help in integrating three critical regions in the Indo-Pacific — the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and Indian Ocean Region (IOR).


What was proposed post-26/11 attacks?

  • The National Committee on Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS) made auto identification system (AIS) compulsory for bigger ships (vessels above 20 metres). NCSMCS is a national-level forum and an apex review mechanism for maritime and coastal security, in which all concerned ministries and government agencies are represented.
  • For smaller vessels (less than 20 metres), vehicle monitoring system (VMS), which is slightly different from AIS, is used. AIS is a broadcast mode which anyone can receive while VMS is a proprietary system and one can’t receive unless the data is given. In terms of functioning, VMS has a transponder which relays data via a satellite.
  • Trials have been conducted by attaching VMS on smaller vessels in states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu but there has been no concrete progress.


About ‘Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing’

  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a broad term that captures a wide variety of fishing activity.
  • It concerns all aspects and stages of the capture and utilisation of fish, and it may sometimes be associated with organised crime.
  • There are two main regulations globally on IUU fishing –
    • Cape Town Agreement (CTA) –
        • The CTA outlines fishing vessel standards and includes other regulations designed to protect the safety of crews and observers and provide a level playing field for industry.
        • It is adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
    • Agreement on Ports State Measures (PSMA) –
        • PSMA is the first binding international agreement to specifically target IUU fishing.
        • Its objective is to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches.
  • India is a signatory to neither of the two agreements.