Fishery Solution


Visma Consulting Vessel Monitoring System helps Greenlanders secure their livelihood

With 60,000 residents and 80 percent of the country ice-capped year round, Greenland depends on fishing for its survival.

Visma Consulting Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) helps Greenland´s authorities to ensure that fishing quotas are kept. It is also an important tool for rescue operations in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

The importance of the fishing industry means the authorities are serious about monitoring quotas and protecting restricted areas.

With hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of territorial waters to control, it´s a big job. Mads Nedergaard, head of the Control & Inspection Unit of Greenland´s Directorate for Fishing and Hunting, says Visma Consulting vTrack, a web-based VMS, is "a major tool" in keeping fishermen from trawling in protected waters.

Massive "factory vessels" that catch, process, package and snap freeze fish and shrimp at sea are "very interested in going to where the biggest catches are", Nedergaard says. "vTrack helps ensure they don´t go into restricted waters". "Big vessels can cause a lot of damage to the sea bed, effectively wiping out local stocks and removing the livelihood of small coastal fishermen".

Caught red-handed

Visma Consulting vTrack provides coastal authorities that monitor fishing zones with real-time vessel positioning information and allows them to easily exchange the data with the navy, neighboring countries and international bodies. Recently, vTrack helped Nedergaard´s team to guide inspection vessels to where a local boat was poaching shrimp.

"We caught them red-handed", he says. "Without vTrack, in 9 out of 10 situations, fishermen would have gotten away with it".

The operation netted about EUR 149,000 in fines and other costs, thus helping vTrack "pay for itself". The system can also benefit search and rescue operations by informing the navy where wishing vessels are located.

Monitoring fish stocks

Greenland fishing authorities have complemented vTrack with Visma Consulting Catch Reporting System (CRS), vCatch,  enabling them to keep exact count of how much of each species of fish is caught and where. Fishing quotas are determined by historical figures on catch totals and scientific studies on the rate of depletion of fish stocks. Without vCatch Greenland would have trouble preserving its quota levels or selling fishing rights to other countries, another key source of revenue.

"Both vTrack and vCatch are important means to protect the livelihood of Greenland fishermen", Nedergaard says.

"But, they don´t always see it that way", he concedes - "For them it´s a police tool. Nevertheless, most fishermen accept being a part of the system and have no problem with that".

Martin Panduro Olesen, Team Manager for Visma Consulting in Denmark, where fishing authorities helped develop vTrack and vCatch, says: "When most people hear public control, they think it´s negative. But with no control, soon there´ll be no fish". Nedergaard says the success of the systems has allowed Greenland to live up to its international obligations. "That gains us the credibility we must have to prove we can manage our natural resources and to stand up and argue for the right quotas", he says. "If we didn´t have vTrack and vCatch we´d be finished2.

vTrack- A "repeatable solution" from Visma Consulting

Countries using vTrack:

  • Denmark
  • Greenland
  • Germany
  • Poland
  • Lithuania
  • The Netherlands
  • Faeroe Islands
  • Estonia
  • EU Community Fisheries Control Agency
  • Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
  • US National Oceanic and Atmospheric organization

What it does

vTrack is a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) that arms coastal authorities with a key enforcement tool to control access to its territorial waters and prevent illegal fishing. Once an hour a GPS position is automatically sent from all vessels to a VMS system in each costal state. The public authority can then look at the position of all vessels on a GIS interface, both from the office and onboard patrol vessels. If a vessel enters a restricted area it triggers an alarm and fishery inspectors can take immediate action.


International regulations stipulate that all fishing countries must have a VMS system. The base requirement for a VMS system is the same in all countries, but national authorities may introduce additional regulations. vTrack is a repeatable solution that gives each national authority all the common functionality for a VMS system. In addition, authorities have the option of adding functionality to meet specific, enhanced local regulations.

The technology

vTrack is a pure web technology that provides coastal authorities that monitor protected fishing zones through a GIS interface with unlimited access to real-time vessel positioning information via satellite, allowing them to readily exchange

key tracking data with the navy, neighboring countries and international bodies. The GPS positions are recorded by a transceiver on the vessel and sent through a satellite connection to a Land Earth Station (LES).

vTrack receives the positions real-time from the LES, passes the information though a Java component to examine whether an alert must be raised and stores the position in an Oracle Spatial database.