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Cook Islands, Sao Tome and Principe Accede to Cape Town Agreement

Credit: IMO

By The Maritime Executive 2019-10-21 21:31:26

The Cook Islands and Sao Tome and Principe have become the latest States to become Party to the Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety. They deposited their instruments of accession during the Torremolinos Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety a and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing (October 21-23).

At the same time, they joined 44 other countries signing the Torremolinos Declaration, a non-legally binding political instrument. By signing the Declaration, the 46 States publicly indicate their determination to ensure the Cape Town Agreement reaches entry into force criteria by the 10th anniversary of its adoption (October 11, 2022).  

The ministerial conference is being held to push forward ratification and entry into force of the Cape Town Agreement, to bring in mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 meters (79 foot) in length and over.

The treaty will enter into force 12 months 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. With the latest accessions, 13 countries have ratified the Cape Town Agreement: Belgium, Congo, Cook Islands, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa and Spain.

Countries signing the declaration denounced the proliferation of IUU fishing. The countries signing the declaration were: Argentina, Belgium, Belize, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Congo (Republic of), Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea (Republic of), Guinea Bissau, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Kriibati, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of Korea, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Uganda, United Kingdom and Vanuatu.

Opening the Conference, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim recalled that the first international regime to address fishing vessel safety had been adopted in Torremolinos in 1977, with a follow up Protocol adopted in 1993, but had not entered into force. The Cape Town Agreement of 2012 will provide the updated mandatory regime for fishing vessel safety. “Back in 1977, in this very hall, the journey towards a mandatory international safety regime for fishing vessels began. After more than 42 years, IMO and its Member States have returned to Torremolinos to give the final push, to bring a binding international regulatory regime for fishing vessel into force,” Lim said.