A diplomatic conference to consider a new agreement aimed at implementing the provisions of an international treaty on fishing vessel safety has opened in Cape Town, South Africa, 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, meeting from 9 to 11 October, 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.
Welcoming delegates to the Conference, IMO Secretary-General Mr. Koji Sekimizu said that the significant changes in the fishing industry globally in the last 20 years called for renewed regulatory efforts, and the time was now ripe for an Agreement to be concluded such that its objectives can be met on an international basis.
“Such an Agreement would also significantly complement the binding international safety regime that is already in place for fishing vessel personnel, as provided by IMO’s International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F),” he said, noting that the STCW-F treaty had recently entered into force, on 29 September 2012.
“The base document has been prepared and agreed by the Maritime Safety Committee over several sessions and presents the draft Agreement as a single, new, legally binding instrument. The only outstanding issues awaiting the decision of this Conference are provisions on exemption clauses and the entry-into-force requirements. I am well aware that further discussion will be needed to strike the right balance between differing views so that a consensus may be reached, which is of course very important to the success of the Conference. However, I am confident that, notwithstanding some of the complexities involved, these will not impede achieving a clear and unambiguous outcome that is widely acceptable and leaves Member States in no doubt as to their responsibilities,” Mr. Sekimizu said.
The Conference was also addressed by His Excellency The Honourable Dikobe Ben Martins, Minister of Transport, South Africa on behalf of the Government and people of South Africa.
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 Conference is expected to consider the draft agreement in detail and decide on a number of provisions, including its entry into force criteria.
Conference officers elected
The following were elected as officers of the Conference:
His Excellency The Honourable Dikobe Ben Martins, Minister of Transport, South Africa
Vice Admiral Enrique Larrañaga, Director General, Directorate General of the Maritime Territory and Merchant Marine ((DIRECTEMAR), Chile
Mr. Masato Mori, Director General, Engineering Affairs, Maritime Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), Japan
Mr. Andrzej Kossowski, Counsellor (Maritime Affairs), Permanent Representative of Poland to IMO
Chairman, Committee of the Whole
Mr. Miguel Palomares, Spain
Vice Chairmen, Committee of the Whole
Mr. Jaideep Sirkar, Chief, Naval Architecture Division, Office of Design and Engineering Standards, United States Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, United States of America
Mrs. Jemilat J. Mahamah, Minister Counsellor, Alternate Permanent Representative of Ghana to IMO
Chairman, Drafting Committee
Ms Laureen Kinney, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security, Transport Canada
Other officers will be elected as the Conference progresses.