Treaty half-way to helping 'dangerous profession'

Spain is latest country to accede to IMO Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety, helping a dangerous profession but more needed.


Spain has become the latest country to accede to the International Maritime Organization’s Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety, significantly boosting the number of vessels needed for entry into force.

Dangerous profession

The entry into force of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement will result in benefits for the fishing industry, including fewer accidents, fewer lives lost and a more effective infrastructure for monitoring and targeting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said, ‘with Spain’s accession we are approaching half way to reaching the entry into force criteria for this vital treaty.  I urge other IMO Member States, who have not already become a party to the treaty, to follow suit.’ Mr Lim added, ‘the Cape Town Agreement needs to enter into force so that we can fill the regulatory gap and have an effective international regime to address fishing vessel safety, and reduce fatalities in one of the most dangerous professions in the world.’ HE Mr Carlos Bastarreche Sagües, Ambassador of Spain to the United Kingdom and Permanent Representative of Spain to IMO, deposited the instrument of accession to the Cape Town Agreement with Secretary-General Lim. The IMO also announced co-hosting with Spain an IMO Conference on fishing vessel safety and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) Fishing, in Torremolinos, Spain, tentatively scheduled for 21 to 23 October 2019.

Regulatory gap

International treaties such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS) have been in force for many decades for commercial shipping, including cargo and passenger ships.  SOLAS includes a number of regulations which are applicable to all ships, such as SOLAS chapter V on safety of navigation.  However, many other SOLAS regulations provide an exemption for fishing vessels. The Cape Town Agreement fills the gap in international regulations by providing the necessary safety regulations for the fishing industry. The Cape Town Agreement will enter into force 12 months after at least 22 States, with an aggregate of 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over operating on the high seas, have become Contracting States. With Spain’s accession, there are now 11 Contracting States to the Agreement, with an aggregate number of 1,413 fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over operating on the high seas.

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