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IMO Ministerial Conference - Safe fishing, Legal fishing


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Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, organized by IMO and the Government of Spain, Torremolinos, Málaga, Spain, 21-23 October 2019

 Conference purpose and aims

The Conference aims to promote ratification of the Cape Town Agreement, a key IMO treaty for safety of fishing vessels. The entry into force of the Cape Town Agreement will help deter the proliferation of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, by establishing international safety standards for fishing vessels.

The Conference is co-hosted by IMO and the Government of Spain, with the kind support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Download key information on the Torremolinos Conference

Photos of the Conference: photos

Photos of the signing of the Torremolinos Declaration: Photos. 

 Conference Programme

Venue: Torremolinos Congress Centre, Calle México 3, 29620, Torremolinos, Málaga, Spain 

Download the full provisional programme here or click on the image.

Provisional conference programme 

Monday 21 October

  • 09:30 Opening session: Welcome from Mayor of Torremolinos / Opening address by IMO Secretary-General / Keynote Address by Spanish Minister of Development / Appointment of Conference President

  • 10:00 onwards: Ministerial segment: Ministers attending will be invited to address the benefits of implementing a mandatory safety regime for fishing vessels, including reduced fatalities, improved working conditions, reduction of marine pollution, increased protection of polar waters, expanded enforcement measures to combat IUU fishing and reduced risks for search and rescue services. Conference President opens Segment / Keynote address by UN Special Envoy for the Ocean Peter Thomson / Statements by Ministers / Closing remarks

  • 17:40: Torremolinos Declaration signing ceremony (see below)

Tuesday 22 October

  • Setting the scene - link to presentations
  • Applying effective safety and environmental protection standards of the Polar Code to fishing vessels - link to presentations
  • How Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Threatens the Safety of Fishers 
  • Improving safety, reducing risk, and protecting our Search and Rescue Services  
  • Effectiveness of international fishing vessel programmes and responsible fishing schemes to promote safety
  • Working Conditions and the Cape Town Agreement

  • 17:40: Special event: Women in fisheries (see below) 

Wednesday 23 October

  • Marine debris from fishing vessel
  • Road to ratification of the Cape Town Agreement
  • Adoption of the Conference resolutions (download draft resolutions in Circular Letter No.3932/Add.1). 

  • Closing remarks

(Conference will end 12:30) 

 Torremolinos Declaration signing ceremony

The Cook Islands and Sao Tome and Principe became 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 and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing (21-23 October).

At the same time, they joined 44 other countries (46 in total) 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 tenth anniversary of its adoption (11 October 2022).  

 Special event on women in fisheries

The World Maritime theme for 2019 is ""Empowering women in the maritime community". (Read more here.)

In line with this theme, the women in fisheries event will bring together key stakeholders in fisheries, to debate the issues around the role and visibility of women in the sector. 

Women in fisheries special event
  • Time: 17:40 to 18:30 
  • Location: Bajondillo Room

 Joint FAO/ILO/IMO Working Group on IUU Fishing (23-25 October)

The Conference will be followed by a meeting of the Joint FAO/ILO/IMO Working Group on IUU Fishing, to be held after the Conference concludes on Wednesday, 23 October, until Friday, 25 October 2019, at the same venue.

Download agenda and information (CL No. 3936) on the Fourth session of the Joint FAO/ILO/IMO Ad Hoc Working Group on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Related Matters, Torremolinos, Málaga, Spain (23-25 October 2019). 

 Why the Cape Town Agreement is needed

Fishing is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. It is estimated that thousands of fishers lose their lives every year. IMO has been working for many years, alongside other stakeholders, to enhance fishing vessel safety – and save lives at sea. This work also contributes to the battle against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. 

But the key IMO treaty covering fishing vessel safety is not yet in force. The lack of an international mandatory regime makes it harder for effective control and monitoring of fishing vessel safety standards. 

The 2012 Cape Town Agreement is an internationally-binding instrument which will provide that regime. The  Agreement includes mandatory international requirements for stability and associated seaworthiness, machinery and electrical installations, life-saving appliances, communications equipment and fire protection, as well as fishing vessel construction. 

The 2012 Cape Town Agreement is aimed at facilitating better control of fishing vessel safety by flag, port and coastal States. It is also expected to contribute to the fight against IUU fishing.

The treaty will enter into force 12 months after at least 22 States, with an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over operating on the high seas have expressed their consent to be bound by it.

To date (September 2019), 11 countries have ratified the Cape Town Agreement: Belgium, Congo, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, South Africa and Spain. Between them, they have an aggregate of 1,413 fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over operating on the high seas.

Read more here.

 Is there a link between safe fishing and the UN SDGS?

​​Yes. Ensuring safe and sustainable fishing is clearly linked with the achievement of the targets of UN SDG 14 on the oceans. 

There are also clear links with other UN SDGs, including those relating to poverty, hunger, education and training, infrastructure and partnerships. 

The IMO Torremolinos Conference will support these goals. Download the fact sheet on the Cape Town Agreement and the SDGs

Seafood is a highly-sought after and nutritious meal for millions of people across the world - and an essential food protein in many developing countries. 

 Practical information for delegates

Registration and Security

Please note that the registration desk at the venue will be open on Sunday 20  October from 5.00 pm - 7.00 p.m; then from 07. 30 a.m. on Monday 21 October. 

Information on how to register for the Ministerial Conference is contained in Circular Letter No.3932 or by sending an email to

Member States and international organizations in consultative status with IMO can register via the IMO online meeting registration system (OMRS), which can be found here, under the symbol FVS-IUU. If any difficulties are encountered with the registration process, please send an email to and the IMO Conference Division will assist delegates with the registration process. 

Non-Member States and international organizations not in consultative status with IMO can register for the Conference by sending an email to, using the pre-registration form set out in annex 5 of Circular Letter No.3932, for each named participant. 

For purposes of security, delegates that do not register for the Ministerial Conference will not be permitted to participate until proper documentation is provided to the IMO Secretariat. 

Access to documents to be considered by the Ministerial Conference

To access the documents to be considered by the Conference, all delegates and observers must register for access to "IMODOCS".  Delegates registered via OMRS will automatically gain access to IMODOCS. The documents can be found in the Meeting Documents section, under "Conferences", under the symbol "FVS-IUU/CONF.1".    

Delegates that do not have access to IMODOCS through their governments or organizations can register for a "Public Account" account here.  

Training videos on how to register and use IMODOCS are available here and here.  Any queries regarding access to IMODOCS should be sent to 

 Media access

​Bona fide media are invited to attend the Conference. 

Arrangements will be made for access to the main programme and for interviews.

Media interested in attending should contact media[@] in the first instance.