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FCC Rules Prohibit AIS Fishing Buoys

We just received an FCC Enforcement Advisory from our local Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Examiner. The Federal Communications Commision and the U.S. Coast Guard are getting the word out, that the use of AIS transmitters, commonly marketed as "AIS Fishing Net Buoys" is a violation of FCC rules. "Anyone advertising or selling these noncompliant fishing net buoys or other noncompliant AIS devices should stop immediately, and anyone owning such devices should not use them. Sellers, advertisers, and operators of noncompliant AIS equipment may be subject to substantial monetary penalties."

While marking your gear with a radio beacon that you can find on your AIS receiver might sound like a good idea, doing so violates FCC rules. The FCC has several issues with AIS fishing buoys:

  • The AIS fishing buoys are not certified by the FCC and may interfere with "federal government operations, private licensed operations, and other authorized equipment."

  • Under the FCC’s rules, the only devices permitted to use AIS frequencies are Class A and B shipborne equipment, AIS Search and Rescue Transmitters, and Maritime Survivor Locating Devices.

  • AIS fishing buoys, "can transmit a vessel identification signal without essential navigational safety information. This can have a serious detrimental effect on maritime safety, hampering the situational awareness of maritime operators and endangering ships relying on AIS to avoid collisions..."

"Compliant maritime equipment intended for tracking fishing nets is authorized to operate in the 1900-2000 kHz band, not the AIS frequencies. These devices will not be advertised as AIS equipment."

If you are manufacturing, importing, advertising, selling, or using AIS fishing buoys, you should stop immediately. The FCC wants you to know that if you violate the rules, you "may be subject to the penalties authorized by the Communications Act, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines (up to $19,639 per day for marketing violations and up to $147,290 for an ongoing violation)". That's big money to any fishing operation.

Get the details. Read the FCC Enforcement Advisory, here.

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