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Representatives from 120 countries participated in the Ministerial Conference held from 21 to 23 October in Torremolinos, Spain. Participants included 70 representatives at ministerial level and 30 representatives of international organizations, making the event one of the largest fishing vessel conferences in the history of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Imo organized the conference with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Pew Charitable Trust Funds and the Spanish government. CTA updates, amends and replaces the Torremolinos Protocol of 1993 as regards the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977. Neither the Torremolinos Convention nor the Protocol will enter into force, but the provisions will be reflected by CTA. Once the ATC is in force, minimum requirements are laid down for the design, construction, equipment and inspection of fishing vessels of 24 metres or more in length operating on the high seas. Its entry into force would allow port States to carry out safety inspections that could be coordinated with fishing and employment agencies to ensure transparency of fishing and occupation activities. The treaty provides for minimum safety measures for fishing vessels in line with the International Convention for the Protection of Life at Sea (SOLAS), a binding international treaty on the safety of merchant ships that entered into force in 1980. It also calls for the harmonisation of fisheries, labour and safety inspections.

In closing statements, the IMO Secretary-General said: “There is no time to lose.” Lim warned that if the fishing sector remains insufficiently regulated, fishing activities “will continue to cause more deaths, pollute our oceans. and harm developing countries affected by illegal fishing activities. The Cape Town Agreement on the Safety of Fishing Vessels is expected to enter into force on 11 October 2022, the tenth anniversary of its adoption. [IMO Press Release] [IMO press release on women fishermen] Some 120 States, 70 ministerial representatives, 30 international organizations and 500 delegates participated in the Torremolinos Ministerial Conference on Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing (21-23 October) at one of the largest fishing vessel conferences in IMO`s history. The conference was organized in collaboration with Spain, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The entry into force of the IMO Convention on the Safety of Fishing Vessels will be essential to improve the safety of fishermen at sea and will contribute to the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. A three-day ministerial conference, co-hosted by IMO, began on Monday in Torremolinos, Spain, to secure support for the ratification and entry into force of the Cape Town Agreement to introduce binding safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 metres and over. The financial drivers behind illegal fishing can lead to poor safety and working conditions for vessel crews. When stocks are overexploited, fishing and fishermen`s incomes decrease. “The Cape Town Agreement is fundamental to ensuring the safety of fishing vessels and protecting the lives of fishermen in one of the world`s most dangerous professions. And its ratification and entry into force will contribute to the end of IUU fishing, reduce the waste of international fishing vessels at sea and limit the number of search and rescue operations dangerous to fishing vessels in distress by the search and rescue forces of States, commercial and naval fleets and other fishing vessels,” Herr said.

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