Case Studies | Maritime

Queensland Fisheries

Rolling out vessel tracking for commercial fishers under the sustainable fisheries strategy.

The Challenge

Under the Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy released in 2017 all commercial fishing boats are required to carry a satellite tracking device, so Fisheries Queensland officers can collect important data for fisheries management and ensure operators are complying with fishing regulations.

The Solution

The SPOT Trace unit is one of five devices that has been approved by Fisheries Queensland for use by commercial fishers. Pivotel has been closely collaborating with the industry and Fisheries Queensland to enhance the devices to ensure they are fit for purpose in a rugged ocean environment.


The units have been performing well. Pivotel have been very helpful in ensuring that the unit is suitable for industry.      

Donna Walsh, Director, Digital Solutions Fisheries Information and Shark Control, Fisheries Queensland

The Operational Challenge

Fisheries Queensland’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017 - 2027 provides a road map to manage and preserve Queensland’s fish stocks while supporting industry. A key plank in the Strategy is a range of monitoring programs to ensure commercial operators are compliant with relevant regulations and to gather data to allow for effective fisheries management.

Vessel tracking became mandatory for all net, line and pot fishers in January 2019, and it will be required by all harvest, beam trawl and charter fishers by January 2020. Data from vessel tracking is used to monitor quota in near real time, monitor compliance with area and seasonal closures, provide intelligence and evidence for investigations; help validate logbook data on where and when fishing occurred; help estimate the biomass of a fish stock; and help inform fishery management changes that may be needed.

“The challenge was to find a vessel tracking solution that suited all sized boats,” says Donna Walsh, Director, Digital Solutions, Fisheries Information and Shark Control, Fisheries Queensland.

The devices needed to be small, portable, waterproof, easy to use, run on battery and external power, and at a cost acceptable to the industry. Extensive consultation with industry showed users were most concerned with issues around cost and data privacy.

The Operational Solution

The SPOT Trace device, supplied and supported by Pivotel, was one of three units chosen by Fisheries Queensland for a 10- month trial.

Fisheries Qld identified the SPOT Trace device as suitable initially because Fisheries Queensland use the SPOT Trace device to keep their remote and isolated Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers safe and connected while in the field. “We’re looking for something that operates on a satellite network, with 5-minute reporting at a minimum, the fact that it does have internal battery for fishers who might lose external power, and to do all of that at a reasonable cost,” says Donna Walsh.

The SPOT Trace unit meets all these criteria – it is light and portable at just 90 grams, runs on internal or external power, with eight days battery life for constant use or up to 25 days for daily eight-hour operation. The unit costs $199, or $299 for a package including waterproof cable and mounting bracket and air-time monthly fee is $33.30.

“Feedback from trial participants was mostly positive. The unit received good comment regarding its size and portability, as well as ease of set up and use,” the trial report states. “Several participants commented the unit was very easily moved from one vessel to another. One participant reported that it was so small and compact, with no wires or antenna and smaller than an iPhone, it had absolutely no impact on operation…

The Outcome

The SPOT Trace has been approved by Fisheries Queensland for use in vessel tracking and is the most inexpensive among the approved devices, both for unit cost and monthly air-time fees.

The trial process has allowed Pivotel to enhance the device specifically for use in the fishing industry in several key ways, based on feedback from trial participants. These include enabling units to run on external power even when batteries are flat or no batteries are installed and increasing the sensitivity to movement of the unit to prevent the units going into sleep mode while at sea.

The state government, with assistance from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, has set aside up to $3 million to help fishers pay for the purchase and installation costs associated with implementing vessel tracking.

The Hardware


SPOT Trace

A theft-alert tracking device powered by 100% satellite connectivity.


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