The IMO Secretary-General said the Cape Town Agreement will be a “significant contribution to the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry” and called for bringing the Agreement into force as soon as possible.
23 October 2019: Forty-eight States committed to ratify the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety at the Torremolinos Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. In the Torremolino Declaration, States pledged to promote the Cape Town Agreement and work to eliminate IUU fishing.
Representatives from 120 countries attended the Ministerial Conference, which convened from 21-23 October in Torremolinos, Spain. Participants included 70 ministerial-level representatives and 30 international organization representatives, making the event one of the largest fishing vessel conferences in the history of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). IMO organized the Conference with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Government of Spain.
In 1977, delegates adopted the first international treaty to address the safety of fishing vessels in Torremolinos, with a follow-up Protocol adopted in 1993. That agreement did not enter into force. IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim reflected that, over 40 years later, the world has returned to Torremolinos to work to bring the Agreement into force. Lim welcomed the 2019 Conference’s “broader consensus on the urgent need for the Cape Town Agreement to enter into force,” stressing it will be a “significant contribution to the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry.” He called for bringing the Agreement into force as soon as possible.
The Cape Town Agreement features mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 meters in length and longer and is seen as a “key tool” in combatting IUU fishing. The Agreement addresses fishing vessel construction, stability and associated seaworthiness, electrical installations and machinery, communications equipment, fire protection and life-saving appliances. When the Agreement enters into force, it is expected to improve the safety of life at sea for fishers worldwide who currently are not covered by a global mandatory regime for fishing vessel safety.
The Agreement will enter into force once a minimum of 22 States, with an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 meters in length and longer operating on the high seas, ratify the Agreement. The Cook Islands and Sao Tome and Principe acceded to the Agreement during the Conference, joining the 11 countries that had previously ratified the Agreement: Belgium, Congo, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, South Africa and Spain.
Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Mozambique, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Uganda, the UK and Vanuatu signed the Torremolinos Declaration.
In concluding statements, the IMO Secretary-General stressed, “There is no time to lose.” Lim cautioned if the fishing sector remains insufficiently regulated, fishing activities “will continue to cause more fatalities, pollute our oceans … and harm developing States affected by illegal fishing activities.” The Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety is expected to enter into force on 11 October 2022, the tenth anniversary of its adoption. [IMO Press Release] [IMO Press Release on Women Fishers]
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