46 countries sign fishing vessel treaty


A total of 46 countries have signed the Torremolinos Declaration, a non-legally binding political instrument aimed at improving fishing vessel safety and reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The declaration was signed last week during the Torremolinos Ministerial Conference on Fishing, Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in Spain. By signing the declaration, the 46 states publicly indicate their determination to ensure the Cape Town Agreement reaches entry into force by the tenth anniversary of its adoption (11 October 2022).

The declaration states there is deep concern regarding the continuing and alarmingly high number of fishers’ lives and of fishing vessels reported lost every year. It also expressed concern that the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the implementation of the Torremolinos Protocol of 1993 had not entered into force.

Putting the agreement into force would mandate minimum safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over. The Cape Town Agreement covers key parameters such as stability and associated seaworthiness, machinery and electrical installations, life-saving appliances, communications equipment, fire protection and fishing vessel construction. Although adopted in 2012, it will only enter into force after at least 22 States, with an aggregate 3 600 fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over, have expressed their consent to be bound by it.

The Torremolinos Conference was co-hosted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the Government of Spain, with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The Pew Charitable Trusts. It was attended by more than 500 participants from 148 delegations, including more than 30 Ministers.

Speaking at the close of the Conference, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim noted that IMO had once again returned to Torremolinos to finish the endeavours started more than 40 years ago, when the first global treaty to address safety of fishing vessels was adopted in Torremolinos in 1977 (it did not enter into force).

“In 2019, with this conference, we now have a broader consensus on the urgent need for the Cape Town Agreement to enter into force, as a significant contribution to the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry,” Lim said. “This work must now continue, in a pro‑active and cooperative manner, to bring the Agreement into force as soon as possible, so that fishers around the world can enjoy the safety and welfare benefits.”