CLS America is proud of the long partnership with NOAA to monitor fishing activities and protect valuable marine resources. CLS America was the key partner in the earliest successful vessel monitoring programs for U.S. fisheries. Our program helped lay the groundwork for all VMS programs in the U.S. and for all of the U.S. exclusive economic zone, the largest managed ocean area in the world. In the early days of VMS, systems were installed on fishing vessels in order to protect critical marine zones from overfishing, or potential harm to non-target species. For example, many of the Alaska VMS measures were initiated to protect Stellar Sea Lion rookeries off of islands in the Bering Sea and North Atlantic Ocean. The success from these early projects led to expansion of the VMS program to all regions in the U.S., and in a wide variety of fisheries.

As VMS use expanded, fishermen and fishing groups began to see real benefits to having the system on board, and began to benefit from regulations that now allowed them increased access due to the improved fishing effort data that the VMS units produced. Fishermen started to see the VMS as an excellent way to keep all fishermen on a level playing field, because it was a universal regulation in many fisheries. In addition, VMS units began playing important roles in keeping our fishermen safe at sea. Since the VMS broadcasts its vessel’s position, Coast Guard and Marine rescue missions have had additional information to find those vessels and mariners in distress. Many lives have been saved by the additional location data that VMS programs provide.

More recently, VMS units have become critical communications devices onboard. Modern units allow for real-time email to and from the vessel by satellite, for the transmission of important weather information, and as a way to update fishermen on changes to fishing regulations that impact their current trip. Our THORIUM VMS system has become a vital part of onboard operations. With satellite email and weather, new mapping features, real-time catch reporting and more, THORIUM now helps fishermen stay safe, informed, and connected throughout their fishing trips.