Yesterday, Belize, Japan and Portugal became the latest countries to show their support for the safety of fishing vessels by becoming contracting parties to the fishing vessel safety treaty, the 2012 Cape Town Agreement.
The 2012 Cape Town Agreement (CTA) will bring in mandatory safety requirements for fishing vessels when it enters into force. It now has 20 parties. The CTA, which will enter into force 12 months after at least 22 States, with an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels meeting the length requirements operating on the high seas, must express their consent to be bound by it.
General overview of the safety regulations in the Agreement:
- The fishing vessels are surveyed on a regular basis by the flag State authorities. Port State authorities will also have an opportunity to survey fishing vessels that are flying foreign flags calling at their ports.
- Life-saving appliances, radio installations, structure, machinery and equipment shall be inspected before it is put into service and at intervals not exceeding five years.
- Details of the surveys shall be made available in an International Fishing Vessel Safety Certificate.
- If a vessel has been exempted, its operator shall complete an exemption certificate and make it available on board for examination at all times. Certificates can be examined and accepted by any party to the Agreement.
- Vessels shall remain watertight, weathertight, strong, and stable, even under adverse conditions, such as ice and extreme weather.
- Life-saving appliances shall be available and sufficient at all times, and adequate emergency procedures shall be in place.
- Vessels shall have regular drills that include all crew and observers.
- Vessels shall be fitted with radio-communications equipment capable of transmitting and receiving search and rescue information, distress signals, and all other relevant communications.
- Vessels also shall be able to safely navigate and signal.
The CTA will apply to fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over. It includes provisions addressing stability and associated seaworthiness, machinery and electrical installations, life-saving appliances, communications equipment and fire protection, as well as fishing vessel construction.
More than 50 countries signed the “Torremolinos Declaration”, following a Ministerial Conference held in Spain in October 2019, indicating their determination to ratify the Agreement by its tenth anniversary (i.e. 11 October 2022).
There are, at present, 20 Contracting States to the CTA with approximately 2,000 qualifying fishing vessels. These are: Belgium, Belize, Congo, Cook Islands, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Kenya, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa and Spain.
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