IMO Member states in the Pacific Region were part of an active discussion exploring the national and regional benefits of ratifying and implementing the 2012 Cape Town Agreement (CTA), which aims to boost safety for fishing vessels and their crew. The event was the latest in a series of virtual webinars aimed at engaging decision-makers from maritime administrations and fishery authorities on the topic, and was organized in cooperation with the Pew Charitable Trusts, Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Pacific Community (SPC) Secretariats.

Joseph Westwood-Booth, Senior deputy director for IMO's Maritime Safety Division said, "While a number of factors may have contributed to the bad safety record of the fishing industry, there can be no doubt that the lack of an effective internationally binding regulatory regime for the safety of fishing vessels plays a significant part.

"The 2012 Cape Town Agreement will provide a much-needed mandatory regulatory framework for the safety of fishers, help combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and create more sustainable working conditions in the sector. Upon entry into force, the IMO agreement will act as an additional legislative pillar, supporting the important measures in place via the STCW-F Convention, ILO's Work in Fishing Convention and FAO's Agreement on Port State Measures," he added when opening the webinar.

The 2012 Cape Town Agreement sets out minimum safety standards for vessels of 24-meters in length and over that are flagged with a contracting State. It will come into force 12 months after being ratified by at least 22 States, with an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels meeting the length requirements operating on the high seas. It has 16 Parties to date.

Among other important issues, the webinar attendees were given insight into the major principles of the Agreement, ratification process, the effects of fisheries management policies on fishing safety, benefits of ratifying the Agreement from labour, insurance, search and rescue, and marine environment perspectives. The webinar featured positive impacts of the Agreement on combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Two panel discussions took place with speakers from UN Specialized Agencies, Member States and industry representatives, which were followed by question and answer sessions with engaging discussions.

Participants agreed a statement encouraging States to become a party to the Cape Town Agreement. Read the statement here: Pacific Region CTA Webinar Statement.pdf

The next regional webinar, currently slated to be the final in the series, will be held on 19 and 20 October for Asian stakeholders. Details can be found here.