Welcome to the Marine Electronics Forums presented by Panbo and SeaBits.
AIS Fishing Beacons
On a recent east coats we came upon several groups of AIS targets that turned out to be small beacons on long line floats.
While its nice to think that these floating buoys can be identified at night, and AIS seems a good tool to adopt, I think the current practice is dangerous. Read my version here :
After forwarding this link to the USCG we received a very prompt reply :
" given their use of an illegitimate MMSI number(s) and other erroneous data in their broadcast it is most likely that they one of the illicit devices also shown on your webpage. We are well aware of the proliferation of these devices, notwithstanding our and the FCC best efforts to shutdown outlets that have tried to sell here in the U.S. Next month we are poised to publish a Public Notice which will hopefully get the word out to their users, and heed them to cease and desist. Note, these and other Autonomous Maritime Radio Devices (AMRD) are a worldwide issue being addressed at the International Maritime Organization and International Telecommunications Union (see attached). Hopefully, in the not too distant future we will have a better paradigm for their legitimate use, beyond what is already permitted under the AIS Aids to Navigation station approval. " So the USCG is on the case and things may improve in the future.
Last night I had dinner with an East Coast professional fisherman, a friend, who also believes these beacons should not be in use. He's on his way to La Jolla (CA) this weekend for a board meeting of the Seafood Harvesters group, and will raise this issue with them. That group includes representatives of all the commercial fishing operations around the USA.
FYI. I encouraged Neil to post about this AIS net marker issue here (thanks, Neil), and I also queried the USCG about it. I was refered to the following:
"18. Can I use AIS to mark nets, pots, traps, moorings, or as a race mark, etc.? There are no outright prohibitions to use AIS (i.e. AIS AtoN) as a marker (see Types of AIS and IALA Recommendation 1016 – Mobile Marine Aids to Navigation). However, it is not permissible to do so with equipment intended for use on vessels, (i.e. AIS Class A or B devices), for lifesaving (i.e. AIS SART, MOB AIS, EPIRB AIS), or with devices that are not FCC certified and licensed. See 47 CFR §§ 2.803, 2.805, 2.301, and 80.13 regarding licensing, station identity, and the prohibition to sell, market, or use radio devices that are not FCC authorized (search, Equipment Class: AIS)."
So I don't think it can stopped, and I'm also not sure it should be stopped, but I'm glad to hear that the USCG is getting more aggressive about enforcing the regulatory limitations. Non-approved AIS of any sort is a danger to the system.
A year ago we were Northbound about 80nm off the coast of South Carolina, and a line about 15nm long of these things spaced about 2nm apart appeared on the screen ahead of us. I looked at all the info they were sending out (no help) and noted that there was a fishing vessel stationed at one end of the line. They were lit up as normal for fishing boats (mini cruise ship, only brighter) so I called them multiple times on CH 16 and CH 13 - but no answer (it was 0200 or so). We (with great trepidation) crossed between two markers and saw nothing except it appeared the bouys (if thats what they were) had a dim flashing yellow light on them. If we had been a deep-draft vessel, I would have been VERY concerned. A few weeks later in CT I asked some USCG personnel about it, but they had no idea. The MMSI numbers they were using were clearly bogus.
Yes Hartley, you had a similar experience to us. We had fairly lumpy conditions, and not all the buoys were visible all the time - in fact most only showed up for maybe one minute of every ten. So we never developed a clear picture of what was happening. Speaking with professional fisherman who work those boats, its clear they go to sleep out there without a watch keeper, expecting the AIS alarm to warn them of any dangers. Yet their illegal buoys are increasing the chance of them being run down, as the big ships simply don't know where to head...
So what is the benefit to the fishermen? Simply being able to see their buoys or fishing gear that they left at each spot by using these AIS devices? I would think they already have technology to help with this through other means since they wouldn't want to lose their gear. This seems like a spendy way of doing it...
Steve, these AIS beacons are MUCH less expensive, so the fishermen love them. Also, they rightly recognise that the buoys will now be visible to other vessels, which probably reduces the number of lost buoys and line tangles. However until they show up with a unique icon on our Nav screens it’s a real problem.