AIS / VMS

Ship traffic parameters

The Baltic Sea is one of the busiest seas in the world and both the number of ships and the quantities of cargo on the Baltic are growing rapidly. According to the HELCOM (Link HELCOM) there are about 2,000 ships in the Baltic marine area at any given moment, and each month around 3,500-5,000 ships traffic the waters of the Baltic Sea.
Since shipping belongs to the main sources of human induced underwater noise, one of the input parameters to the BIAS soundscape model will be information on what kind of vessels that traffic the Baltic Sea, as well as how and when they move around. The ship type and size as well as the ship’s position, course and speed are available through data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).

AIS
The Automatic Identification System was built to help ships avoid collisions, as well as to assist port authorities to better monitor the maritime traffic.

In 2000, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted a new requirement for all ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards and all passenger ships irrespective of size to: carry automatic identification systems capable of automatically providing information about the ship to other ships and to coastal authorities.
AIS transponders on board vessels include a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, which collects position and movement details. It also includes a VHF transmitter, which periodically transmits this information and makes the data available to the public domain. Other vessels or base stations are able to receive the data, process the information using special software, and display vessels locations on a chart plotter or on a computer.


The map shows the shipping lines in the Baltic Sea (and the main inland waterways) for three different vessel types during one week in July 2011.
VMS
The Vessel Monitoring System is a satellite-based monitoring system specifically for fishing vessels which provides information about the vessels’ position and activity.
VMS is nowadays a standard tool of fisheries monitoring and control worldwide, but it was the European Union which led the way becoming the first part of the world to introduce compulsory VMS tracking for all the larger boats in its fleet (Link to European Commission). The global “top of the VMS chain” is however the United Nations fisheries operations under the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Within the EU, the European Commission demands all fishing vessels larger than 12 meters and operating outside the Member State’s baseline to report VMS data to the Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) of the vessel’s flag Member State. When vessels are positioned outside of national waters each FMC forwards the VMS data to the FMC of the nation concerned.

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