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Inching towards creating a safer fishing industry
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Inching towards creating a safer fishing industry

First requirement met for Cape Town Agreement

INTERNATIONAL: One of the two requirements that will see the 2012 Cape Town Agreement (CTA) come into force was reached yesterday when the Republic of Nicaragua became the 22nd State to become party to the Agreement by depositing its instrument of accession.

The second condition – that the States which are Party to the treaty must have an aggregate of at least 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 metres and over operating on the high seas – is yet to be met. The Agreement will enter into force 12 months after the date on which both requirements have been satisfied.  

International Maritime Organisation's Secretary-General Kitack Lim welcomed the deposit by Nicaragua.  

“I congratulate Nicaragua on its deposit, which takes us a step further to meeting the entry into force criteria for this vital treaty on fishing vessel safety. I encourage and urge States which have not yet done so, to take the necessary steps to become a party to the Cape Town Agreement.” 

“We cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to addressing safety of fishers and fishing vessels. It is time to ensure the Agreement enters into force as soon as possible, to complete the missing pillar for safe, sustainable and legal fishing,” Secretary-General Lim said.  


“We cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to addressing safety of fishers and fishing vessels. It is time to ensure the Agreement enters into force as soon as possible, to complete the missing pillar for safe, sustainable and legal fishing."


The purpose of the Cape Town Agreement is to improve safety standards in the sector thus reducing loss of life, and to ensure improved working conditions for fishers. Additionally, its provisions are designed to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, reduce marine pollution and enhance protection of polar waters, as well as decrease risks for search and rescue services.   

Once in force, the Agreement will introduce minimum requirements in the design and construction of fishing vessels of 24 meters or more in length, or the equivalent in gross tons, as well as in the inspection of those vessels by port States. It includes mandatory international requirements for stability and associated seaworthiness, machinery and electrical installations, life-saving appliances, as well as for communications equipment and fire protection

H.E. Luis Erick Rodríguez Lanuza, the new Ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, deposited his country's instrument of accession on 19 October 2023

History of the Cape Town Agreement 

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is generally considered the primary treaty for the world’s shipping fleet – but fishing vessels are exempted from most SOLAS regulations, such as those that apply to ship construction, life-saving appliances and fire protection.  

Although the Cape Town Agreement was adopted in 2012, work to introduce a mandatory regulatory framework for fishing vessels began 35 years previously with the adoption of the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels. Not enough countries ratified the Convention due to the complexities of implementing its provisions, so an updated version called the Torremolinos Protocol Relating to the Torremolinos Convention was developed. It was adopted in 1993 but faced the same difficulties as the Convention in attracting the required number of ratifications, preventing its entry into force. 

The subsequent 2012 Cape Town Agreement was the result of five years of intensive discussions to achieve consensus on an instrument that would introduce an effective and robust globally binding agreement to address the safety of fishers and fishing vessels.

 

22 Contracting Parties to the Cape Town Agreement 

Belgium, Belize, Congo, Cook Islands, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Kenya, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa and Spain. 

 

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