International organizations focus on protecting fishers’ lives through ratification of IMO’s Cape Town Agreement
IMO’s Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety needs to be ratified and implemented in order to save fishers’ lives. This key message was reiterated by IMO’s Sandra Allnutt during the UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) Committee on Fisheries (COFI 2018) meeting in Rome, Italy (9-13 July). The 2012 Cape Town Agreement is aimed at facilitating better control of fishing vessel safety by flag, port and coastal States. The Agreement currently has 10 Contracting States, but needs 22 for entry into force, along with a required number of aggregate fishing vessels.
At the opening session of the COFI, Ms. Allnutt highlighted the positive collaboration between IMO, the FAO, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Pew Charitable Trusts to support ratification of the Cape Town Agreement. IMO, in collaboration with FAO, has been running a series of seminars around the world to explain what the Agreement is, why it is important, how it can be implemented into national legislation and what the next steps are for a Party to the Agreement. Ms. Allnutt called for good understanding and support from fisheries ministries and the fishing industry. “Although the instrument was adopted by IMO, all UN agencies that deal with ocean issues can, and should, encourage Governments to ratify the Agreement. Cooperation and collaboration are the way forward for the safety of millions of fishers across the world,” Ms. Allnutt said. Ms Allnutt also intervened during the COFI agenda item on Fisheries and ocean governance – Combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, highlighting the relevance of the Cape Town Agreement to the fight against IUU fishing.
During a side event on “Ensuring socially, environmentally and commercially sustainable fisheries”, Ms Allnutt emphasised the four pillars for fishing safety, environmental protection and seafarers' training and rights – of which only the Cape Town Agreement has yet to enter into force: IMO’s 2012 Cape Town Agreement (not yet in force); IMO’s STCW-F Convention on training of fishers (which entered into force in 2012); ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (Convention No. 188) (in force since November 2017); and FAO’s Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), 2009 (entered into force in 2016). The side event was also attended by representatives of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs (DOALOS), FAO, ILO, the EU social dialogue committee for sea-fisheries, European Commission, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Netherlands and the Holy See. The Committee on Fisheries (COFI) is a subsidiary body of the FAO Council and provides a global inter-governmental forum to examine major international fisheries and aquaculture issues.