Croatia is the 15th country to become Contracting State to the 2012Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safetyshowing increasing support for the regulations designed to safeguard fishing vessels and their crews. Croatia deposited its instrument of accession on 16 February.  

The Agreement, once in force, will bring in mandatory international safety requirements for fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over, including provisions addressing stability and associated seaworthiness, machinery and electrical installations, life-saving appliances, communications equipment and fire protection, as well as fishing vessel construction. 

For the Cape Town Agreement to enter into force, at least 22 States, with an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels meeting the length requirements operating on the high seas, must express their consent to be bound by it. It will enter into force 12 months after these conditions have been met, and be a useful tool in combatting illegal, un-reported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and reducing pollution from fishing vessels, including marine debris. 

There are, at present, 15 Contracting States to the Agreement with an aggregate number of 1433 of fishing vessels of qualifying length. These are: Belgium, Congo, Cook Islands, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa and Spain. 

IMO has been working hard to improve the safety record of the global fishing fleet and to promote the AgreementA series of regional webinars is currently being conducted in cooperation with The Pew Charitable Trusts to raise awareness of the issue of fishing vessel safety. The webinars will provide a platform to get more insight into the Agreement and share lessons learned from States that have already ratified the Agreement, or are currently in the process of doing so (read more here). 

The webinars are another step to get more countries to ratify the Cape Town Agreement, following the Torremolinos Ministerial Conference held in Spain in October 2019, which brought together some 120 States to discuss safe and legal fishing. More than 50 countries have signed the “Torremolinos Declaration”, indicating their determination to ratify the Cape Town Agreement by its tenth anniversary (i.e.11 October 2022).   

IMO is also in the process of revising a related treaty to improve the training of fishing vessel personnel. The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F Convention), already in force, is undergoing a comprehensive review, with work continuing during this week’s meeting of the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 7).