Global maritime charity Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) has welcomed the signing of a Declaration which will boost fishing vessel safety and help curb illegal and unregulated fishing.
Forty eight countries have signed the Torremolinos Declaration, indicating their determination to ratify the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety during a Ministerial Conference this week led by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The Torremolinos Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing was held from October 21 to 23 in Torremolinos, Spain.
“Stella Maris commends and welcomes the Declaration and Resolution. We look forward to working with the IMO, International Labour Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization and IMO Member States to eradicate IUU fishing and provide better welfare support to fishers and their families on whom we depend for so much,” said the Charity’s National Director Martin Foley.
Foley said IUU fishing affects not only fish stocks and the environment but also the just and fair employment of many of thousands of fishers. “Cases of severe physical maltreatment, employment abuses such as non-payment of wages and bonded labour have also been encountered by Stella Maris port chaplains and other agencies supporting crew working in the fishing sector,” he said.
Foley said fishers work in one of the most dangerous environments and yet all too often governments and authorities turn a blind eye to the appalling conditions many are forced to endure.
Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) is committed to fighting trafficking in the fishing industry and is actively involved in assisting fishers who are in danger of being exploited and abused by unscrupulous owners by providing spiritual and material assistance to the fishers and their families.
Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) Chair of Trustees Dr Esteban Pacha, who is also part of Spain’s Delegation to the IMO, attended the Conference which saw participation from some 120 States, 70 ministerial-level representatives, 30 international organisations and 500 delegates.
He said, “We need all parties to commit to ensuring safer seas and decent working conditions for fishers, and with this Declaration, we are closer than ever to this objective. We urge all Member States to ratify the Cape Town Agreement.”
In a communique published on their website, IMO says that 48 Members States have signed the Torremolinos Declaration, publicly indicating their determination to ensure that the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety will enter into force by the tenth anniversary of its adoption on October 11 2022.
The Cape Town Agreement includes mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over. It 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.
* A prayer for fishers and their families.