Notice to Fishermen: Omnitracs Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Units Must be Replaced by April 1, 2020

February 10, 2020

Public Notice: NMFS-SEA-20-05.

The McMurdo "Omnitracs" Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) operated by vessels in the West Coast Groundfish Fishery will no longer be supported by its satellite provider after March 31, 2020.  All current owners of the Omnitracs unit were notified via a letter from McMurdo dated December 19, 2019.

What should you know if you own an Omnitracs unit?
  • This VMS unit must be replaced by April 1, 2020 or vessel owners/operators will risk being out of compliance with VMS regulations in the West Coast Region (WCR).  The unit will not function with any other satellite provider. 
  • List of Type-Approved VMS Units.
  • McMurdo has a replacement unit called "Omnicom" that functions with the Iridium satellite network.  This VMS unit is not yet approved for use in the WCR. 
  • Vessel owner/operators with questions about their current service or the new Omnicom unit should contact McMurdo directly at 800-262-8722 or at
What is NOAA doing to help vessels with Omnitracs units?
  • We are working with McMurdo to test their new Omnicom VMS unit so that we can recommend it for approval.  We cannot say how long this process will take, but are making it a priority.
  • Vessel owner/operators with questions on NOAA's VMS reimbursement program or their eligibility for VMS reimbursement should contact the Office of Law Enforcement’s (OLE) Helpdesk at 888-219-9228 or  Please be aware this reimbursement program is managed by our OLE Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, rather than by OLE’s West Coast Division in Seattle, Washington. 
General VMS reimbursement guidance:
  • A vessel owner may be reimbursed for the cost of a new unit if they have not received a previous reimbursement for a unit purchased for that vessel. 
  • If a vessel owner was previously reimbursed for the cost of a unit for that vessel, then the government will not issue a second reimbursement for another unit if the government did not cause their current unit to become non-compliant. 
General VMS questions:  

Last updated by West Coast Regional Office on February 10, 2020