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REMINDER: The Gulf of Mexico Vessel Monitoring System Requirement for Charter/Headboat Vessels Effective Date is March 1, 2022

February 16, 2022

FB22-007: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact: Southeast For-Hire Electronic Reporting Program, 1-833-707-1632,

Key Message:

  • The Southeast For-Hire Integrated Electronic Reporting (SEFHIER) program’s vessel monitoring system (VMS) requirement will become effective March 1, 2022.  The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council selected the VMS requirement to enhance recreational data and catch limit tracking in the Gulf of Mexico for improved fisheries management.




  • Effective March 1, 2022, Gulf of Mexico Charter/Headboat federally permitted vessels are required to be equipped with a type-approved position reporting VMS transceiver unit.  This unit may transmit through either satellite or cellular signal and must meet the following requirements:
    • is permanently affixed to your vessel,
    • operates 24 hours a day,
    • must collect your location data at least once an hour for transmission to NOAA Fisheries (unless the vessel has an approved power down exemption, or is in port and is equipped with a type-approved VMS unit configured with the 4-hour reporting feature),
    • has been properly installed by a certified and authorized installer (as authorized by the VMS vendor), and
    • has been activated through the NOAA Fisheries Help Desk (the VMS vendor will contact the help desk on behalf of the customer).



Additional Information:

  • The location positioning portion of the hardware must be installed by a certified installer (as determined by the vendor), and permanently affixed to the vessel.
  • The owner or operator of a Gulf of Mexico federally permitted for-hire vessel must comply with these reporting requirements no matter where the vessel is fishing.
  • The device must be turned on and transmitting as required at all times, unless a power-down exemption is granted. 
  • If the vessel is to be continuously out of the water or in port for more than 72 consecutive hours, permit holders may request to power down the VMS unit by submitting a Power Down Exemption Form.  The form will be made available on the SEFHIER program website once the requirement is effective.  For additional questions, please contact the SEFHIER program, at 1-833-707-1632 or by email at
  • Gulf of Mexico federal for-hire permits will require an activated, approved positioning VMS unit, or a valid power down exemption, for all permit renewals or transfers.  A VMS status check will be performed on every renewal or transfer application to ensure the vessel is compliant.



  • The list of type-approved VMS units can be found on the SEFHIER program webpage: VMS Type Approved Units
  • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the VMS requirement and all aspects of the SEFHEIR program are available on the program website.
  • Recordings of VMS requirement webinars hosted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in October 2021 can be found on their website, under the VMS Vendor Outreach Webinars section.  Please refer to the SEFHIER program webpage for a list of current approved vendors.


Please call our customer service hotline with any questions (we are available to help from 8:00 AM-4:30 PM, ET) at 1-833-707-1632, or email us at


NOAA's Text Message Alert Program allows you to receive important fishery related alerts via text message (SMS).  Standard message & data rates may apply.  You may opt-out at any time.


Text alerts you may receive include:

  • Immediate fishery openings and closures
  • Any significant changes to fishing regulations that happen quickly


Sign up for one or more of the following groups:

  • Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFRECFISH to 888777
  • Gulf of Mexico Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFCOMMFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLRECFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLCOMMFISH to 888777
  • Caribbean Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text CARIBFISH to 888777  Join us every other Friday on NOAA Fish Instagram for Rec Fish Friday!


Other contacts:

Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707

            Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750 

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on February 16, 2022