4th FAO/ILO/IMO Joint Working Group meeting on IUU Fishing and other related matters

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing refers to fishing which is carried out without proper authorization. This can undermine national, regional and global efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks and result in poor safety and working conditions for fishers. Tackling the issue requires collaboration by all stakeholders. A Joint Working Group of three UN agencies – the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) - met in Torremolinos, Spain, to address IUU fishing (23-25 October).

The group recommended the three organizations promote and support the development of ways to increase coordination and information sharing for inspection procedures at national level. Guidance could be developed, to facilitate coordination and information sharing between authorities carrying out inspections in port, in both merchant and fishing sectors, in line with relevant international instruments related to fishing vessels, fishing vessel personnel and fishing operations.

Capacity building efforts were highlighted, with a recommendation to share information and experience for a potential integrated capacity-building and technical cooperation programme on IUU fishing and on promotion of relevant international instruments, in particular, among training institutions such as the World Maritime University, the World Fisheries University, the International Maritime Law Institute and the ILO International Training Centre.

The group recommended that ILO and the IMO extend their work on issues of abandonment and fair treatment of seafarers, to include fishers. It was also recommended that FAO consider how to promote safety of fisheries observers. The group also recommended that the issues of abandonment and fair treatment of seafarers, be extended to include fishers

On marine litter, the group noted the IMO Action Plan on marine plastic litter from ships, which includes planned action to address lost, abandoned and discarded fishing gear and recommended that FAO and ILO members and observers forward relevant views to IMO.

With regard to the allocation of IMO numbers to fishing vessels, in support of the Global Record of fishing vessels, the group recommended that FAO, IMO and ILO, as appropriate, and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, consider taking appropriate action for effective allocation of the numbers. In 2017, IMO adopted a resolution to extend the IMO number scheme to fishing vessels of steel and non-steel hull construction over 100 gross tonnage and above.

The 4th FAO/ILO/IMO Joint Working Group meeting on IUU Fishing and other related matters met in Torremolinos, Spain, with representatives from States and other organizations, including IGOs and NGOs. Recommendations will be submitted to relevant bodies of FAO, ILO and IMO. The JWG met following the Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing (21-23 October). The conference, organized by IMO and the Government of Spain, promoted ratification of the Cape Town Agreement, the key IMO treaty for safety of fishing vessels. Entry into force of the Cape Town Agreement is expected to contribute to the fight against IUU fishing by providing a global mandatory regime for fishing vessel safety.  Read more here.

The group recommended that IMO consider developing guidance to assist competent authorities in the implementation of the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 through the most appropriate process. This process should allow for further discussion on content and scope and be informed by FAO, ILO, other relevant Organizations and stakeholders.

Key instruments covering fishing vessels include ILO's Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (Convention No. 188); FAO's Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), 2009; IMO's STCW-F Convention on training of fishers; and IMO's Cape Town Agreement on safety of fishing vessels (the latter being the only one of these not yet in force). The MARPOL Convention on prevention of pollution ships, including its annexes on garbage, sewage, and air pollution, applies also to fishing vessels as well as to cargo and passenger vessels.

Prior to the convening of the fifth session of the group, relevant FAO, ILO and IMO bodies, will review the group's terms of reference and rules of procedure.