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IMO Fishing Vessel Treaty Gets Major Boost At Historic IMO-Led Ministerial Conference

Forty-Eight States sign public declaration to indicate their determination to ratify the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety at a Ministerial Conference held in Torremolinos, Spain

Some 120 States, 70 ministerial-level representatives, 30 international organizations and 500 delegates attended the Torremolinos Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing (21-23 October), in one of the largest fishing vessel conferences held in the history of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

A global regime to create much-needed safety standards for fishing vessels has moved a significant step closer following the IMO-led international Ministerial Conference, organized in conjunction with Spain, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

During the conference (21-23 October), nearly 50 States signed the Torremolinos Declaration, publicly indicating their determination to ensure that the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety will enter into force by the tenth anniversary of its adoption (11 October 2022).

The Cape Town Agreement includes mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over. It covers key parameters such as stability and associated seaworthiness, machinery and electrical installations, life-saving appliances, communications equipment, fire protection and fishing vessel construction. Although adopted in 2012, it will only enter into force 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.

When it does, it will improve the safety of life at sea for hundreds of thousands of fishers worldwide, who currently do not benefit from a global mandatory regime for fishing vessel safety. It is also seen as key tool in combating illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

Speaking at the close of the Conference, which adopted the “Torremolinos Statement on the Cape Town Agreement of 2012, relating to fishing vessel safety, and combating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing”, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim noted that IMO had once again returned to Torremolinos to finish the endeavours started more than 40 years ago, when the first global treaty to address safety of fishing vessels was adopted in Torremolinos in 1977 (it did not enter into force).

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