IMO & Fishing Vessels Safety
The safety of fishing vessels has been a matter of concern to IMO since the Organization's inception, but the differences in design and operation between fishing vessels and other types of ships have proved to be an obstacle to their inclusion in the SOLAS and Load Lines Conventions. While a number of voluntary and regulatory safety initiatives, including the STCW-F Convention, which entered into force in 2012, have reduced losses, fishing still remains the most hazardous occupation at sea.
The first attempt to establish a binding international agreement was with the adoption of the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977 (1977 Convention). Further attempts were made to bring the 1977 Convention into force with the adoption of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol Relating to the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels (1993 Torremolinos Protocol). However, due to difficulties encountered in bringing the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol into force, the IMO prepared a new instrument of implementation. The Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol of 1993 relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977 (2012 Cape Town Agreement) was adopted in October 2012.
The 2012 Cape Town Agreement is a renewed commitment by the Organization to bring the provisions of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol into force. If successful, the new binding regulatory regime is expected to play an important part for improving safety standards, reducing the loss of life in the fisheries sector, combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, improved working conditions, reduction of marine pollution, increased protection of polar waters and reduced risks for search and rescue services.
To support the Agreement, IMO has been implementing a comprehensive range of activities through the Organization's technical co-operation programme with other partner organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Pew Charitable Trust. The above organizations seek to provide information and assistance, at the regional and global level, in order to promote acceptance of the Agreement, as well as promotion of the voluntary safety guidelines.
IMO Member States have been urged to ratify the 2012 Cape Town Agreement in order to bring this treaty into force to enhance fishing vessel safety and reduce the burden of IUU Fishing.
The 1995 STCW-F Convention sets the certification and minimum training requirements for crews of seagoing fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and above. The Convention consists of 15 Articles and an annex containing technical regulations. To learn more about the 1995 STCW-F Convention click the following link.
Fishing Vessel Safety Code and Voluntary Guidelines
Whilst the entry into force of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement remains a primary goal, the Fishing Vessel Safety Code, Voluntary Guidelines and Safety Recommendations provide useful recommendations to safeguard fisher's lives.
IMO has developed, in collaboration with the FAO and ILO, a number of non-mandatory instruments. These include the FAO/ILO/IMO Document for Guidance on Fishermen's Training and Certification and the revised Code of Safety for Fishermen and Fishing Vessels, 2005, and the Voluntary Guidelines for the Design, Construction and Equipment of Small Fishing Vessels, 2005.
The revised Fishing Vessel Safety Code and Voluntary Guidelines - originally developed and approved in the 1970s - have been developed for use primarily by competent authorities, training institutions, fishing vessel owners, fishermen's representative organizations and non-governmental organizations having a recognized role in fishermen's safety and health and training.
As there are no international safety standards in place for small fishing vessels, many countries national regulations, guidelines or standards are either non-existent or inappropriate. The Safety recommendations, approved in 2010, complement the Code of Safety and the Voluntary Guidelines and will address the safety concerns specific to fishing vessels below 12 m in length, and undecked fishing vessels of any size. The standards will primarily be used by the relevant competent authorities to upgrade their national laws and regulations.