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2012 Cape Town Agreement: IMO

The 2012 Cape Town Agreement (hereinafter the Agreement), adopted by a Diplomatic Conference, under the auspices of the International Maritime

Organization (IMO), provides standards on the design, construction and equipment of fishing vessels and includes regulations designed to protect the safety of crews and observers, and provide a level playing field for the industry.

Seafood is a highly-sought after and nutritious meal for millions of people across the world - and an essential food protein in many developing countries.Fishing is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. It is estimated that thousands of fishers lose their lives every year. It is commonly estimated that approximately 80 lives are lost per 100,000 fishers on average. IMO has been working for many years, alongside other stakeholders, to enhance fishing vessel safety – and save lives at sea. This work also contributes to the battle against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. However, the key IMO treaty covering fishing vessel safety is not yet in force. The lack of an international mandatory regime makes it harder for effective control and monitoring of fishing vessels.

The Agreement is an internationally-binding instrument which will provide that regime. It includes mandatory international requirements for stability and associated seaworthiness, machinery and electrical installations, life-saving appliances, communications equipment and fire safety, as well as fishing vessel construction.

The Agreement is aimed at facilitating better control of fishing vessel safety by flag, port and coastal States. It is also expected to contribute to the fight against IUU fishing.

 

The Agreement sets minimum requirements on the design, construction, equipment, and inspection of fishing vessels of 24 meters in length and over or equivalent in gross tons. Its entry into force would empower port States to carry out safety inspections. The 2007 ILO Work in Fishing Convention (C188), the 2009 FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) and the 2012 Cape Town Agreement include provisions related to port State inspections, and their consistent application would provide an opportunity for harmonized inspections in order to ensure that ports represent an effective front in combatting IUU fishing, while contributing to improved safety and health in the fisheries sector and labour conditions on board.

 

The Agreement sets minimum requirements on the design, construction, equipment, and inspection of fishing vessels of 24 meters in length and over or equivalent in gross tons. Its entry into force would empower port States to carry out safety inspections. The 2007 ILO Work in Fishing Convention (C188), the 2009 FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) and the 2012 Cape Town Agreement include provisions related to port State inspections, and their consistent application would provide an opportunity for harmonized inspections in order to ensure that ports represent an effective front in combatting IUU fishing, while contributing to improved safety and health in the fisheries sector and labour conditions on board fishing vessels.

 

The total number of fishing vessels in the world is estimated at around 4.6 million. Most of these are small vessels. Some 64,000 fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over operate in marine waters.

 

 

The treaty will enter into force 12 months after at least 22 States, with an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over operating on the high seas have expressed their consent to be bound by it.

 

As of today, the following 16 Member States have ratified the Agreement:

Belgium, Cook Islands, Congo, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, Spain

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