Gulf Council Approves Implementation of Electronic Logbooks for Federally-Permitted Charter-For-Hire Fleet

Posted Feb. 9, 2017

By Richard Fischer
LCBA Communications Manager

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council approved the requirement of electronic logbooks for the Gulf’s federally-permitted charter-for-hire sector last Thursday.

The requirement of electronic logbooks is expected to be implemented in 2019 at the absolute earliest.

While voting on the types of electronic logbooks, the Council decided to not require VMS, however the GPS portion of the hardware will have to be fixed to the vessel.

Also, captains will have to submit daily fishing reports, but, in lieu of hailing in, they will be allowed to submit up until the moment the fish are unloaded at the dock. Captains will have to hail out before leaving, though.

Below is a slightly more in-depth look at the various components of the types of electronic logbooks which will be required.

No VMS

The Council held up its preferred alternative from the previous meeting to require minimum-archived GPS and not the more rigorous real-time GPS (also known as VMS).

This was the Council’s Technical Committee’s recommendation, and we thank the Council for taking the wishes of our fleet under consideration here. Members from Venice, Grand Isle, Fourchon and Cocodrie got their message across, and during Council deliberations, their views were discussed in detail.

Requiring real-time GPS would have been overkill and unnecessary.

GPS portion of the hardware to be fixed to the vessel

Although our captains stated opposition to having the device fixed to the vessel, this is a bit of a compromise because only the GPS portion will have to be fixed to the vessel.

There are several logbook prototypes that are portable but only connect to the service while in range of the fixed GPS portion – therefore, technically, making this device fixed although captains could take it off their boat.

Daily Fishing Reports

Again, although our captains stated opposition to being forced to report daily, this is a bit of a compromise too because our captains will not have to “text and drive” by hailing in.

Instead, they will be allowed to submit the fishing report after their boat is tied to the dock up until the minute the customers take their fish off the boat.

Hailing Out

Captains will have to hail out prior to leaving the dock and declare their type of trip (for-hire or other) and the expected return time and landing location.

Hailing out may be as simple as pushing a few buttons on the touchscreen of the logbook.

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As mentioned above, logbooks are still at least two years away from being implemented. Now that the Council has approved them, National Marine Fisheries Service will begin the process of designing and organizing the system.

LDWF logbook program

We encourage our federally-permitted captains to consider taking advantage of a grant which will provide them with logbooks free-of-charge as long as they participate in a pilot program. The captain would be responsible for a monthly operating fee, which would likely run between $35 and $70. With the expectation that captains will need to purchase the device themselves (costing thousands of dollars) in two or three years if they don’t participate in this pilot program, we strongly encourage captains to consider this opportunity. Those interested should email the company facilitating the pilot study, CLS America, at support@clsamerica.com.

Thanks to our captains for showing up and speaking

Finally, we’d like to thank our captains who showed up to speak at the Public Comments Session last Wednesday. It was the strongest showing Louisiana charter captains have had in many years, maybe ever, and they undoubtedly changed the Council’s final action on electronic logbooks. Thank you so much for participating in the process.

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