MAJOR improvements in fishing safety are now confidently expected following a major international conference in South Africa and attended by almost 60 different nations.
Commonly known as the Torremolinos Convention of 1977 and its Protocol of 1993, the Cape Town gathering, which met under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), formally adopted a number of technical safety regulations and amendments on the construction of fishing vessels.
Despite huge safety improvements over the last two or three decades, fishing remains one of the most dangerous occupations on the plant. Hundreds of fishermen die at sea every year from many different reasons, but poor fishing vessel construction especially in third world countries, is behind some of these tragedies.
Welcoming delegates to the Conference, IMO Secretary-General Mr. Koji Sekimizu said that the significant changes in the fishing industry globally in the last 20 years called for renewed regulatory efforts, and the time was now ripe for an agreement to be concluded such that its objectives can be met on an international basis.
“Such an Agreement would also significantly complement the binding international safety regime that is already in place for fishing vessel personnel, as provided by IMO’s International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel," he said.
This news 2012 agreement will become operable next year when not less than 22 states, the aggregate number of whose fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over operating on the high seas, is not less than 3,600 in number have expressed their consent to be bound by it.
The IMO said the safety of fishermen and fishing vessels forms an integral part of its mandate but the international instruments on fishing vessel safety which have previously been adopted by the Organisation have not come into force due to a variety of technical and legal obstacles.
Fishing at sea remains a hazardous occupation and the sector experiences a large number of fatalities every year. Bringing into force a binding international safety regime is expected to play a part in helping to improve safety standards and reduce the loss of life, the IMO adds.
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