Good morning, Excellencies, distinguished delegates and observers.
Welcome to the ninety-first session of the Maritime Safety Committee.
As always, the Committee has a full agenda and many issues to discuss. However, before making reference to the most significant ones, I wish to draw the Committee’s attention to the successful outcome of the International Conference on the Safety of Fishing Vessels held last month, in Cape Town, and which resulted in the adoption of the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol of 1993 relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977.
The Agreement, which was adopted by consensus following intensive deliberations at the Conference, had been prepared in detail by the SLF Sub-Committee and a consolidated draft text was subsequently approved at MSC 89, reflecting a significant amount of work by the Committee to develop a workable way forward. I was therefore very pleased to see the renowned IMO spirit of co-operation prevailed in Cape Town. The Final Act of the Conference with its attachments, the Agreement itself and the six conference resolutions have been circulated. You will be invited to consider, in particular, the resolution which requests the Committee to develop a procedure for calculating the number of fishing vessels of each Contracting State. You are requested to complete this task at the earliest opportunity, but not later than 1 January 2014.
I wish to express my personal thanks, as well as those of the entire IMO membership, to the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa for providing excellent facilities and services to ensure the successful running and outcome of the Conference.
I am proud that, in this centenary year of Titanic, we agreed, at long last, to renew our commitment to implement the provisions of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol by unanimously adopting the new Agreement, which represents a practical and realistic regulatory and enforcement regime that addresses the economic, as well as the social and environmental aspects of the fishing sector. Once in force, it will provide the basic framework for the proper implementation and enforcement of internationally binding safety standards. This will not only safeguard the lives of fishermen around the world, it will also mark a significant contribution to the longer-term sustainability of the fishing industry, which I see as an important part of on-going efforts, within the wider United Nations context, to achieve sustainable development goals in the economic, environmental and social spheres. Thus, our work is not finished and the immediate task at hand is now to promulgate the Cape Town Agreement and to ensure the proper implementation and enforcement of its mandatory safety standards through national legislation.
I urge Member Governments to ratify it as soon as possible, so that its early entry into force can be secured. As always, the IMO Secretariat stands ready to respond, through our Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme, to requests from Members for advice and assistance.