IMO Urges Fishing Vessel Treaty Acceptance
The Assembly of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has called on its Member States to accept a 2012 international fishing vessel safety agreement, in order to bring it into force and address the heavy casualty rate in the sector.
The IMO Assembly was meeting for its 29th session at IMO Headquarters in London, United Kingdom (23 November to 2 December).
The Assembly also adopted a resolution commending the role of merchant shipping in rescuing mixed migrants at sea. It adopted the budget and Strategic Plan for 2016-2017, endorsed the appointment of Mr. Kitack Lim as Secretary-General from 1 January 2016 and elected the 40‑Member Council.
A number of other resolutions were adopted, including several aimed at updating various guidance documents.
Fishing vessel safety
The resolution on entry into force and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement calls for the early acceptance of the treaty, as a means to address the alarmingly high number of fishermen's lives and of fishing vessels lost every year.
It is thought that as many as 24,000 lives are lost annually in the fishing sector worldwide.
The entry into force of an internationally binding agreement for the safety of fishing vessels is predicted to have a positive impact on safety in the sector as a whole, as flag and port State Administrations would be required to develop legal and administrative frameworks, as well as processes, for the implementation of provisions related to survey and certification, casualty investigation and port State control.
The resolution calls on Governments experiencing any difficulties in accepting the treaty, to inform IMO so that technical assistance can be provided.
The Cape Town Agreement aims to implement the provisions of the 1993 Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977. In ratifying the 2012 Agreement, Parties agree to amendments to the provisions of the 1993 Protocol, so that they can come into force as soon as possible thereafter.
The Cape Town Agreement of 2012 will enter into force 12 months after the date on which not less than 22 States the aggregate number of whose fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over operating on the high seas is not less than 3,600 have expressed their consent to be bound by it. To date, only five countries have accepted the agreement.
Recognition for merchant vessels involved in rescuing mixed migrants at sea
The Assembly commended all merchant vessels and their crew participating in the rescue of mixed migrants at sea for their bravery, professionalism and compassion, upholding the highest traditions of the sea. It requested the Secretary-General to issue special certificates, retroactively from 1 January 2014, to any merchant vessel and its crew participating in the rescue of mixed migrants at sea, recognizing the risks involved to both rescuers and the rescued, in particular in those cases involving multiple survivors.
From January 2014 to December 2015, in the Mediterranean Sea alone, more than 1,200 merchant vessels were diverted from their intended voyage to rescue more than 50,000 mixed migrants in danger of being lost at sea, a number unprecedented in history.
The resolution expressed grave concern about the current worldwide crisis of migration, involving the greatest movement of displaced persons in nearly 70 years. The transport of mixed migrants by sea in grossly overloaded, unsafe vessels has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives.
The latest International Organization for Migration (IOM) statistics record 878,495 arrivals by sea in the Mediterranean during 2015 (to 1 December) with 3,563 people reported dead or missing.