AIS fishing net buoys, the wrong way & the right way

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

8 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    The USCG AIS office tells me that “Waivers would be considered” — meaning, I think, that an individual fisherman could get waived to use the Em-Trak Buoy-Trackers (or similar if there are any similar).

    They also said that “We have opened the way for other options, i.e. Mobile AIS AtoN and AMRD Group B device — albeit they’re months or years away from the marketplace.” I don’t think there’s a type specification for a MAtoN yet, though Mobile AIS AtoN certainly sounds like what an effective Net Buoy could be.

    Meanwhile, AMRD stands for Autonomous Maritime Radio Device and the proposed Group B type “do not enhance the safety of navigation” and thus could not use the AIS frequencies. This sounds like a safe, approved way for fishermen to track their own net buoys — and possibly many other uses beyond fishing — but not a way to avoid net entanglements with other vessels. Latest ITU document about AMRDs here:

    https://www.itu.int/rec/R-REC-M.2135-0-201910-I/en

    • Ben E says:

      So I failed to imagine how AMRD could be integrated. Apparently some manufacturers are thinking about AIS transceivers with an AMRD receiver built-in. That should be fairly easy and inexpensive to do, and thus there could be an AMRD standard and market entirely separate from the AIS system while future AIS displays could be able to show AMRD net buoys and similar marks. Cool!

  2. Looks familiar, Ben 🙂 I wonder if the necessity of buying yet another device to use an AIS-similar device for tracking nets (plus the likely MUCH higher cost of such devices) might doom the “legal” route right off the bat? Fishermen are notoriously stingy, and their inclination to obey rules they don’t perceive to be useful to them is markedly low, in my experience. Yes, there are exceptions, but if $79 devices they can use with their already-existing AIS receivers exist with no downside (at least for offshore use), I doubt you’ll see much interest.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Sorry, Hartley, forgot to mention that it was you who spotted the AIS net bouys on eBay. Belated thanks!

      I think we agree that a non-AIS device, especially an expensive one, won’t work as it doesn’t help with the entanglement part of the problem. In fact, I believe such systems have been available, though I couldn’t find any.

      And the $572 retail price of the Em-Trak Buoy-Tracker that can be waived for legal use is also a problem for some commercial fishing situations, though understandable as a Type 1 AIS AtoN is a complicated device built in small numbers. Hopefully the regulators will come up with a streamlined Mobile AIS AtoN specification eventually.

      • De Nada, Ben – it’s nice to know y’all are reading my emails:)
        I wouldn’t have any issue with these things out on the big ocean – IF – they had useful info in their beacons – i.e., what it is, and the depth, etc. of the net (or whatever). If I knew it was a 30-foot deep longline, I would sail by without a care – if it’s a surface net, I would stay away. Out there, a 10-mile range device probably won’t interfere with the other AIS users (though satellite monitoring might be compromised, and that’s a concern as well) — now if some mutt drops a couple in NY Harbor, we have an issue! Hopefully, the USCG would take action if they did.

  3. Will Rogers says:

    I keep running into these off Georgia and South Carolina it seems. If they had what they were with correct info it would make a world of difference. In the middle of the night trying to figure what these ais signals are is not fun!

  4. Samuel J Meyer says:

    Is an unknown AIS signal more confusing than a white light bobbing around or an intermittent radar reflection? I would rather know something is there at a greater range. You can use your own experience and judgment to figure out what it is

    • Samuel, I think thats the point – we associate AIS beacons with actual vessels, and we can look at the data they are transmitting to see whether they are a hazard. Now that we’ve seen these and know what they look like, they are less of a hazard – but they still don’t add much to our awareness of potential hazards. A bobbing little light or intermittent radar reflection tells you the object is small and likely non-hazardous out of it’s immediate area.
      Don’t get me wrong – these do indicate there is SOMETHING there, and that’s not all bad – but they could be made a LOT more useful!

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