African Regional webinar builds support for the 2012 Cape Town Agreement

The use of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement as a tool to drastically improve the safety record of the fishing industry formed the focus of a webinar held for decision-makers from maritime administrations and fishery authorities in Africa (23-24 February). Speakers pointed out that the continuing and alarmingly high number of fishing vessel personnel fatalities and of fishing vessels reported lost every year could be reduced by global, uniform and effective implementation of the Agreement.

The two-day online event, which is one in a series of regional webinars, was organized by IMO in cooperation with The Pew Charitable Trusts. The series aims to provide insight into the Agreement and provide a platform for information sharing by States that have already ratified the Agreement, or are currently in the process of doing so.

Presenters highlighted the various benefits open to Member States that ratify the Agreement, not the least of which is the ability to shape the global discussion. They emphasized that countries should consider becoming signatories even if they did not presently have a large fishing fleet.

The 2012 Cape Town Agreement, which is yet to come into force, sets outs minimum safety standards for vessels flagged with the country. And includes provisions for harmonized inspections of the fishing fleet. Additionally, the Agreement will enable Parties to the Agreement to have the ability to request any vessels fishing in their territorial waters to implement same safety standards, i.e., no favorable treatment. Furthermore, the Agreement could be used as a template to create national regulations for vessels falling under the 24-meter length requirement.

Once in force, the Agreement is expected to play a key role in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which is often linked to unsafe operating and poor labour conditions. Presenters highlighted that the entry into force of the Agreement would give individuals the means to report violations, thereby calling out substandard players and thus increase transparency for preventing the exploitation of ocean resources.

Participants noted that the related treaty on training, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F), is already in force but currently undergoing revision.

Read a statement from the participants of the African regional webinar here

The next webinar in the series, for participants from the North Africa and the Middle East region will be held on 13-14 April 2021. Details will be added to the IMO Events Page.

The 2012 Cape Town Agreement, which sets minimum requirements on the design, construction, equipment, and inspection of fishing vessels of 24 meters in length and over or equivalent in gross tons, will come into force 12 months after being ratified by at least 22 States, with an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels meeting the length requirements operating on the high seas. As of the time of the African Regional webinar, it has been ratified by 15 Parties.