Torremolinos Declaration demonstrates surge in support for International Maritime Organization’s Cape Town Agreement

By Stop Illegal Fishing:30th Oct, 2019: Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and IUU Fishing saw 48 States commit to ratify the 2012 Cape Town Agreement (CTA).

The conference, held in Torremolinos, Spain, from 21-23 October 2019, brought together ministers and high-level officials from more than 130 countries. Organized by the IMO, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Government of Spain, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, it promoted ratification of the CTA, the key IMO treaty for safety of fishing vessels. Entry into force of the CTA is expected to contribute to the fight against IUU fishing by providing a global mandatory regime for fishing vessel safety.

At the Conference, two States (the Cook Islands and Sao Tome and Principe) deposited their instruments of ratification and 48 States signed a political declaration committing to ratify the CTA by 2022 (10 years after its adoption). This commitment means that the CTA will exceed the 22 States and 3,600 eligible vessels needed for its entry into force in 2023.

IMO Secretary-General Lim, speaking at the Conference said, “There is no time to lose. If the fishing sector remains insufficiently regulated, fishing-related activities will continue to cause more fatalities; pollute our oceans; place search and rescue services at risk; and harm developing States affected by illegal fishing activities.”

Elsa Patria, Stop Illegal Fishing Chairperson, commented, “This is a significant turning point for the CTA. The momentum to make fishing vessel safety a priority must be maintained and Stop Illegal Fishing will be working hard to support the ratification process to make sure the CTA comes into force.”

Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing Coordinator, said, “The need for an integrated approach to ensure safety, decent work and legal fishing has become increasingly apparent as States take on the challenge of implementing port State measures. We need agencies to work together. This is easy to say, but in practice can be challenging. Through the Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing (PSM-SIF) initiative we have seen all to clearly that there is a massive disconnect between government agencies. Overcoming this is going to take a combination of political will, international agreements, strong implementation on the ground, and well thought through procedures with supporting training and tools to achieve change.”

“It is encouraging that the three countries Stop Illegal Fishing is working closely with to support the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) are amongst the signatories to the Torremolinos Declaration.” Mr Bergh added.

The PSM-SIF initiative enabled the participation of representatives from Ghana, Madagascar and Mozambique’s fisheries inspectorates at the IMO Ministerial Conference and at the 4th Joint FAO/IMO ad hoc Working Group on IUU fishing, which took place on 23-25 October.

The PSM-SIF initiative is funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the Global Programme Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Special Initiative.

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