NAMIBIA is one of the 48 states that have signed a public declaration to indicate their determination to ratify the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety at a Ministerial Conference held in Torremolinos.
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, spoke at the International Maritime Organisation’s Minsiterial Conference on the Cape Town Agreement which took place in Torremolinos, Spain and said Namibia regards its fishing industry in a serious light and because of this, have invested heavily in infrastructure, facilities and equipment to ensure constant monitoring of the entire Namibian Exclusive Economic Zone.
“I wish to reiterate Namibia’s commitment to join the family of IMO member states who are determined to ensure that our fishing vessels remain watertight, weather tight, strong, and stable. The Namibian ocean is rough, hence it is in our interest to ensure that our fishing vessels are seaworthy at all times, and ultimately ensure the safety of our fishermen at all times,” Esau said.
The Torremolinos Declaration aims to ensure that the 2012 Cape Town Agreement will enter into force by the 10th anniversary of its adoption which is on October 11, 2022.
The first international treaty on fishing vessel safety was adopted by IMO in Torremolinos in 1977, with a follow-up Protocol adopted in 1993. But their lack of entry into force has meant that fishers are not yet protected by a global, mandatory treaty – unlike cargo and passenger ships which are covered by international treaties for safety of life at sea and environmental protection, which have wide acceptance and have been in force for many decades.
The Cape Town Agreement includes mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 meters (79 foot) 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 meters in length and over operating on the high seas, have expressed their consent to be bound by it.
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 in one of the largest fishing vessel conferences held in the history of the IMO.
The countries that have signed the declaration are: Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of Korea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Uganda, United Kingdom and Vanuatu.
Along with the Cape Town Agreement and the STCW-F Convention, two other key treaties address fishing vessels and contribute to the fight against IUU fishing. They are: ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (Convention No. 188), which entered into force on November 16, 2017 and sets minimum requirements for work on board including hours of rest, food, minimum age and repatriation; and FAO’s Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), 2009, which entered into force in 2016 and seeks to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing through the adoption and implementation of effective port state measures.