A new agreement aimed at implementing the provisions of an international treaty on fishing vessel safety is expected to be adopted at a diplomatic conference, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 9 to 11 October, under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for maritime safety and security and the prevention of pollution from ships.
The conference is expected to consider and adopt an agreement on the implementation of the provisions of the 1993 Protocol relating to the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels. The agreement would also amend the technical provisions of the 1993 Protocol, with the aim of bringing them into force as soon as possible thereafter.
The safety of fishermen and fishing vessels forms an integral part of IMO’s mandate but the international instruments on fishing vessel safety which have previously been adopted by the Organization have not come into force due to a variety of technical and legal obstacles. Fishing at sea remains a hazardous occupation and the sector experiences a large number of fatalities every year. Bringing into force a binding international safety regime is expected to play a part in helping to improve safety standards and reduce the loss of life.
The draft agreement has been endorsed by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), IMO’s senior technical body, following extensive work to review the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol and address impediments to its entry into force. The proposed draft amendments to the annex to the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol, which would be attached to the agreement, have also been endorsed by the MSC.
Once the agreement is in force, countries which are Party to it could consider implementation of the technical requirements of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol under the terms and conditions contained in the agreement. The agreement would be a new, legally binding, instrument, offering a firm foundation to implement the amended technical provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol.
The conference is expected to consider the draft agreement in detail and decide on a number of provisions, including its entry into force criteria.
Implications of the draft agreement
The draft agreement would facilitate the implementation of the provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol by amending some of its technical regulations, with the intention of making the agreement more readily acceptable for adoption by Member States.
In particular, the draft agreement allows for more flexibility in meeting the essential safety requirements through alternative and equivalent arrangements, which may be permitted by the Administration, such as with regards to fire protection and life-saving arrangements and appliances.
The Conference will also discuss what exemptions may be permitted under the draft agreement.