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 Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 21, 2019 (SKNIS): The Government of National Unity has procured 300 Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) to safeguard the life and vessels of fishermen on both St. Kitts and Nevis. This is a very important undertaking, says Minister responsible for Marine Resources, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, during a Sitting of National Assembly on February 20, 2019.The VMS is a satellite base monitoring system that records, at regular intervals, data on the location, course and speed of fishermen and their vessels. Minister Hamilton stated that the VMS is now considered a standard tool used for fisher safety in St. Kitts and Nevis.Minister Hamilton said that St. Kitts and Nevis is the first nation in the region to introduce this as a compulsory means of tracking for all the Federation’s fishing vessels. He added that signals will come to the central point onshore at 15 to 20 minute intervals. The system tracks, monitors and understands the path vessels have taken and it is saved for future reference.“We monitor vessels in the territorial waters of St. Kitts and Nevis and in the exclusive economic zones,” said the minister. “We can extend monitoring up to 200 nautical miles.”This will improve the management and sustainability of marine environment by ensuring proper fishing practices and the prevention of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, said Minister Hamilton.The minister added that it will also help the coastguard in any of its search and rescue efforts when and if there are any report of distress coming from any of the vessels while at sea.The cost of each device is US $300.“[This] government has decided to find US$300 for 300 fishermen so that each of them and all of them can have it on their vessels. This is a system that can guide authorities and the fishermen …as to where they are at sea at all times,” said Minister Hamilton.In addition to the US$300 per unit, the government has underwritten the first three years of the annual licensing fee which ranges between US$143,000 and US$156,250.“This, Mr. Speaker, is not only done for St. Kitts, but also for Nevis,” said Minister Hamilton. “It demonstrates the partnership that we have developed, significantly better partnership in any time in our history since the installation of the Government of National Unity.” -30

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