IMO says it has moved “a significant step closer” to realising “a global regime to create much-needed safety standards for fishing vessels”, following a strong show of support for the Cape Town Agreement at its international ministerial conference, hosted in Torremolinos, Spain in late October.
The IMO-led conference saw 48 states sign the Torremolinos Declaration, an indication of commitment to putting the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety into force by 11 October 2022. This number includes states who have not yet ratified the Agreement but intend to do so – among them the UK, Finland and China – as well as states that have ratified the Agreement, such as France, Iceland, Norway, Spain and South Africa. These latter-category states have used the Torremolinos Declaration as a means of signalling their commitment to promoting the entry into force of the Agreement.
The Cape Town Agreement was created to introduce mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels sized 24m and over, focusing on areas such as vessel construction, stability and seaworthiness, onboard machinery and electrics, fire protection and carriage of life-saving equipment. It will also be used as a means of clamping down on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
IMO states: “Although adopted in 2012, it will only enter into force after at least 22 states, with an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels of 24m in length and over operating on the high seas, have expressed their consent to be bound by it.” Up to 13 countries have now ratified the Cape Town Agreement.
Kitack Lim, IMO secretary-general (pictured, above), commented: “There is no time to lose…if the fishing sector remains insufficiently regulated, fishing-related activities will continue to cause more fatalities, pollute our oceans, place search and rescue [SAR] services at risk and harm developing states affected by illegal fishing activities. This work must now continue, in a proactive and cooperative manner, to bring the Agreement into force as soon as possible.”