The Cook Islands and Sao Tome and Principles are the latest states to join the Cape Town Agreement in efforts to bring mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over. The states support the implementation of safety measures for the fishing sector in efforts to better protect those working in the industry.
Cape Town Agreement
Fishing is considered one of the most dangerous occupations in the world and, in spite of improvements in technology, the loss of life in the fisheries sector is unacceptably high. In order to improve the safety of fishers and fishing vessels, IMO has established, over the years, various initiatives, culminating with the adoption of the Cape Town Agreement of 2012.
Spain has become the latest country to accede to IMO’s Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety, significantly boosting the number of vessels needed for entry into force. The entry into force of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement is expected to result in fewer accidents, and a more effective infrastructure for monitoring illegal fishing.
IMO has collaborated with the NGO ‘Pew Charitable Trust’, to organise a series of seminars for government officials and industry representatives in key developing countries, to raise awareness of the Cape Town Agreement and the benefits of ratifying it. The Cape Town Agreement addresses fishing vessel safety.
The ILO estimated in 1999 that 24,000 people die every year in the fishing sector, an amount 10 times more than merchant ships. However, fishing vessels are excluded from almost all international maritime regulations. The 2012 Cape Town Agreement wants to stop that and outlines fishing vessel standards.
‘IMO’s Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety needs to be ratified and implemented in order to save fishers’ lives,’ was IMO’s key message during the UN COFI 2018 in Rome,on 9-13 July. The Agreement currently has 10 Contracting States, but needs 22 for entry into force.
South Africa has become the 25th State to sign up to the IMO treaty on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F). The Convention sets the certification and minimum training requirements for crews of seagoing fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and above.
Although exact figures are hard to come by, preliminary estimates of fatalities in fishing are now over 32,000 people annually. These figures provided the background to talks at the Fifth International Fishing Industry Safety & Health Conference (iFish5), on 10–13 June, in St. John’s, Canada.
In an effort to increase global fishing vessel safety, France became the ninth State to ratify IMO’s Cape Town Agreement. The treaty covers various important safety requirements including radiocommunications, life-saving appliances and arrangements, emergency procedures, musters and drills.
IMO says that one this Agreement becomes fully ratified and effective, there will be an internationally binding agreement which will facilitate better control of fishing vessel safety by flag, port and coastal States. It will also contribute to the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
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