Spain joins IMO’s Cape Town Agreement

Published on
February 14, 2019

Spain has agreed to accede to the United Nation’s International Marine Organization’s Cape Town Agreement, making it the 11th party to do so and significantly boosting the number of vessels that the agreement needs to come into force. 

The Cape Town Agreement, drafted in 2012, would regulate fishing vessel safety for the workers on vessels. In order to come into force, 22 countries representing a total of 3,600 fishing vessels longer than 24 meters have to ratify the agreement. 

Spain’s addition to the agreement adds 393 vessels to the total count, bringing it to 1,413. The country has also agreed to co-host a conference, tentatively scheduled for 21 to 23 October, with the IMO on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in Torremolinos, Spain. 

“With Spain’s accession we are approaching half way to reaching the entry into force criteria for this vital treaty.  I urge other IMO Member States, who have not already become a party to the treaty, to follow suit,” IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said in a release.

Currently, few international rules govern the safety of the estimated 40 million workers who are working on vessels in the fishing industry. 

That’s in contrast to other seafaring industries. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, in 1974, covers commercial shipping, including cargo and passenger ships. The convention, however, has a number of exemptions for fishing vessels, leaving a regulatory gap.

“The Cape Town Agreement needs to enter into force so that we can fill the regulatory gap and have an effective international regime to address fishing vessel safety – and reduce fatalities in one of the most dangerous professions in the world,” Lim said.

The other contracting states that have also acceded to the rules are Belgium, the Congo, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, South Africa and Spain. The Cape Town Agreement will come into force 12 months after the 22 country, 3,600 vessel threshold is reached.

Photo courtesy of the International Marine Organization  

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