Fishing is considered one of the most hazardous occupations in the world and, despite improvements in technology, the loss of life in the fisheries sector is unacceptably high. In order to improve the safety of fishers and fishing vessels, IMO has put in place, over the years, several initiatives, culminating with the adoption of the Cape Town Agreement of 2012.
Accra, Ghana, was the host for a regional seminar (8-12 July), on “Ensuring Safety Of Ships and Fishing”, to encourage discussion on promoting and ensuring safety in the fishing industry. The event also provided Member Governments with the assistance they may need in implementing the Agreement.
The 2012 Cape Town Agreement (CTA) will provide international standards for the safety of fishing vessels. It outlines regulations designed to protect the safety of crews and observers and provides a level playing field for the industry while setting standards for fishing vessels of 24 meters length and over.
Many Member States have observed a link between lack of safety at sea, forced labour and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The entry into force of the Agreement is expected to improve safety at sea in the fisheries sector worldwide. It will also be a useful tool in combatting IUU fishing and reducing pollution from fishing vessels, including marine debris.
In an important move, the Minister of Transport of Ghana, Hon. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah urged the Ghana Maritime Authority to set the process in motion for the ratification of the Cape Town Agreement. Fishing is an important industry for Ghana, a major exporter of canned seafood, including tuna.
So far, 11 states have ratified the agreement with 1,413 vessels out of the required 3,600 for entry into force. In Africa, only Congo and South Africa have ratified the Agreement.
The event was organized by IMO in collaboration with FAO, and Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew). It was attended by participants from nine countries in the West and Central Africa region.