Africa’s support of Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety crucial to implementation in 2022: IMO

Pretoria: 25 February 2021

With 14 countries now already on board and needing just eight (8) more to bring to 22 the number of States required for implementation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) sactioned Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessels safety globally, support by African countries in particular has never been more necessary, according to the London based United Nations (UN) body.

This emerged once again strongly this week during a two-day webinar for African region countries hosted by the IMO on Tuesday and Wednesday, essentially to share more information as well as ganner support for the Agreement ahead of its scheduled implementation in 20 months time (October 2022).

Several African countries including South Africa as represented by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), neighbouring Namibia and Gambia participated in the two-day webinar held over two hours on each of the two days, chaired by head of IMO Africa section subdivision for Maritime Development and Technical Co-operation, Mr William Azuh.

The webinar this week was one of several launched a year ago, beginning with Latin America in November 2020 and intended to cover all maritime regions across the world for information sharing and promotion of the ratification of the CTA treaty on fishing vessel safety ahead of its coming into effect next year.

According to the IMO, the CTA adopted in South Africa in 2012 by 51 of its Member States essentially; “outlines design, construction, and equipment standards for fishing vessels 24 meters or longer and details regulations that countries that are party to the agreement must adopt to protect fishing crews and observers. It also calls for harmonized fisheries, labor, and safety inspections.

“The agreement will enter into force once 22 States, with an aggregate fleet of 3,600 eligible fishing vessels, become parties to it. Once in force, this treaty will raise global safety standards for one of the most dangerous professions,” says the IMO

Key features of the CTA in terms of enhanced fishing vessels safety, according to the IMO, are:

  • Improve(ment of) safety of life at sea
  • Fighting illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing
  • Protecting the environment

The CTA, a predecessor to two previous failed treaties; the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, and the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol, is one of four instruments intended to develop, entrench and enhance fishermen working conditions for safety globally in a standardised and harmonious way. Three of these have since been ratified for global application, supported and driven by the IMO and other organisations including the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The three include:

  • the IMO’s International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F), 1995 – in force since 2012 and currently being revised to align its standards with the current state of the fishing industry,
  • the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (Convention No. 188) now force since 16 November 2017 and implemented first by South Africa in December 2017. It sets minimum requirements for work on board including hours of rest, food, minimum age and repatriation.
  • the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), 2009, which entered into force in 2016. The latter is aimed at preventing, deterring and eliminating IUU fishing through the adoption and implementation of effective port State measures.
A Pew video outlining in detail the Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety. (Source: Pew [YouTube])

However, even with three of the instruments now in play, formal implementation of the CTA to enhance fishing vessels safety universally worldwide is crucial, according to both the IMO and its associate, and global research and advocacy group, Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew).

In a statement encouraging African countries’ support and ratification of the CTA ahead of the Africa region IMO webinar this week, Pew stated: “Fishing continues to be recognized as one of the most dangerous occupations in the world and despite major efforts to tackle this problem there is currently no international binding instrument in force that addresses the design, construction, and equipment of fishing vessels.

“But the 2012 Cape Town Agreement (CTA) which was adopted at a Conference in South Africa in 2012 addresses all the difficulties that had been identified by States with large fishing fleets trying to improve vessel safety.

“It is expected that the CTA’s entry into force will give States a powerful tool to ensure that vessels flying their flags are held accountable for the safety of their vessels and crews; that fishing operations are conducted safely and legally; and that their safety obligations as responsible flag States are fulfilled. It will encourage vessel owners and operators to adopt a responsible approach to what is an inherently dangerous activity. And it will also help States to safeguard their citizens who work on board foreign-flagged vessels and mitigate the risk of IUU fish entering their markets.

“At this juncture in time and considering the African continent’s longstanding battle with illegal fishing hindering fish products coming to the African markets and our own artisanal fishing industry being threatened by large scale industrial operators, it is time to act and make ourselves heard, said Pew.

At the IMO webinar this week, some African countries, among them Namibia, expressed keen interest to support the CTA, however, some citing numerous challenges involving technical expertise, as well as setbacks recently experienced with the outbreak and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic since December 2020.

Meanwhile, South Africa, a key contributor both to the development and implementation of the ILO’s C188 Convention and a forerunner as signatory of the CTA, indicated that it remains “proactive in efforts to effectively implement the required Flag State requirements of the “Agreement”.

Domestically, the country’s main representative at the IMO, SAMSA, said that the country was among the lead 14 IMO Member States to have ratified the CTA agreement. The 13 others include Belgium, Congo, Cook Islands, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Spain

Speaking on Tuesday, the first day of the webinar, SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller outlined some of the South Africa’s achievements to date since implementing the instruments aimed at fishermen safety. Among these was the significant and consistent reduction in the number of fishers fatalities in the two decades from 2000 to 2020. In the period, recorded fatalities fell from double digits of between 20 (2000) and 57 (2002) to single digits now hovering at about four (4) per annum in 2020.

It was also significant, he said, that in the 14 years between 2006 to 2020, the majority of fishers fatalies (55) involved fishing vessels measuring less than 10 meters in length, followed by those measuring between 10-24 meters (53) while the largest at 24 meters and above accounted for less than half (20) of the smaller vessels in both categories.

Of the few “lessons learnt’ by the country over the years, Capt. Keller said no country could afford to be a spectactor in its own as well as the global maritime environment. “Be more than a spectator country in the business of ocean and fisheries economy.” This, he said, implied a greater need for collaboration betwen multiple government departments and agencies “to ensure harmonised legislation in support of each others’ objectives.

Captain Vernon Keller. Deptuy Chief Operating Officer: South African Maritime afety Authority (SAMSA)

“Collaborate with the fishing industry and make them part of the solution to obtain a ‘buy-in’, modernise fishing vessel construction, equipment, safety and labour regulations. Equally important is the systematic implementation of new regulatons to allow for a change management process to take place,” said Capt Keller, further indicating that due to South Africa’s legislative process being slow, the country had to prioritise legislation for the implementation of the ILO’s C188 Convention.

Further, according to Capt. Keller, South Africa’s other lessons included knowledge sharing among key government agencies and departments as crucial, as the country soon noted with SAMSA’s training of Department of Environment, Forestry and Fishing (DEFF) fishing inspectors to help identify safety deficiencies during IUUF inspections onboard vessels at sea. And so was the case with close supervision of training institutions, programs and facilitators to formalise training. The country also found it worthwhile to create awareness with respect to fishers rights as well as allocating dedicated resources to seafarer welfare that SAMSA now operates.
Capt. Keller pointed out however’that, on the flipside of the coin, effective implementation of all the approved measures also had its negative consequences. Some of the emerging issues, he said; included Flag States who were failing to fulfil their obligations towards own fishers – with some fishers being abandoned by fishing vessel owners once foreign fishing vessels were detained.

“Abandoned fishing vessels are a financial burden on the State due to caretaking costs of vessel and the fishers onboard. In addition, there is port revenue loss due to abandoned fishing vessels remaining in port for extended periods and confiscating and selling an abandoned foreign fishing vessel is difficult due to the low financial value and conditon of the vessels.

(Source: IMO)

In terms of support of African countries, South Africa has continously availed itself for providing guidance based on development of own draft regulations. As part of that support effort, in October 2017, the country hosted a regional seminar for several African contries over five days at the historic Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town’s. The gathering – attended by 50 delegates from several English-speaking or Anglophone African countries in central and southern Africa – was the seventh in a series held by the IMO worldwide since the founding of the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ five years before.

For a brief glimpse at that Cape Town gathering of some of African countries for information on the CTA under the guidance of the IMO and SAMSA in 2017, click on the videos below:

Wrapping up this week’s IMO webinar on Wednesday evening (7pm South African time), participants issued a statement expressing gratitude to the government of South Africa, Liberia, and Spain as well as the IMO, ILO, FAO and Pew.

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SAMSA firmly puts foot down on SA fishermen safety law compliance: PE fishing firm forced to toe the line!

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File Photo: Fishing vessels berthed at the port of Port Elizabeth

Pretoria: 24 September 2018

Ensuring maximum safety for fishermen crews in South Africa’s commercial fishing sector should be a matter of common sense both from a basic human and business perspective.

cropped-samsa-master-logoThis is particularly so for employers in the sector in view of the stark fact that owners as well as skippers of fishing vessels that flout legislation for the protection of fishermen can face both jail terms of a minimum one year, as well as a fine of up to R40 000 per incident when found in contravention.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) at the weekend following an incident in Port Elizabeth a few days earlier during which a fishing vessel was prohibited to sail after the owners and skipper were established to have contravened sections of the Maritime Occupational Safety Regulations (MOS Regs) 1994.

The contravention concerned, in particular, Regulation 4 of the MOS Regs (1994) relating to compulsory provision of safety equipment and facilities by employers to fishermen whilst at sea.

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File Photo: In the foreground to the left, a fisherman working on fishing equipment at the port of Port Elizabeth

A SAMSA report last week indicated that an ad hoc inspection of the Fv Silver Explorer, managed by Talhado Fishing Enterprises on behalf of M B Fishing Ventures, berthed at the port of Port Elizabeth had found that the vessel’s crew had to personally pay for some of their required safety clothing, which were ‘oilskin pants, trousers and gumboots’.

The report states: “During an ad hoc inspection on the Fv Silver Explorer (on Wednesday morning) everything was found to be in order except that the crew was still paying for their Oilskin pants and oilskin trousers, as well as their gumboots.

“These items are part of their protective clothing as per Maritime Occupational Safety Regulations, 1994, Reg 4 which is for the (vessel) Owners Account. Corrective action was to prohibit the vessel from sailing until the matter was addressed in terms of regulations and proof thereof forwarded to SAMSA.”

SAMSA says that afternoon, Talhado Fishing Enterprises responded with a written commitment to rectify the situation by supplying the involved clothing items at its own expense going forward.

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File Photo: A SAMSA official chatting to fishermen in Mossel Bay

In the written response, among other things, the fishing vessel’s shore skipper, Mr Robert Mentzel said: “This letter serves to confirm that Talhado Fishing Enteprises will cover the cost of protective clothing; 1 x Oilskin jacket, 1 oilskin pants, 1 x gumboots, 2 pairs of socks….from the opening of November 2018

“Initially, the skipper will hand out the PPE on sailing day open season and the crew will hand over the PPE to the skipper on docking day. A register will be kept on board by the skipper to control this.”

After receipt of the commitment, SAMSA lifted the sailing prohibition and allowed the vessel a free run.

However, SAMSA described the outcome of the case, where the company committed to self-finance protective clothing for its fishermen crew, in according with law, as a major milestone in the promotion of and monitoring of compliance with law by the commercial fishing sector with regards to fishermen safety.

In fact, SAMSA said, the Wednesday incident occurred just a one other fishing company, also in Port Elizabeth, had embraced the legal requirement to supply its fishermen crew with personal protective equipment at the fishing vessel owner’s cost.

SAMSA reported that “the company manages 15 vessels with crews of between 20 and 25 persons at R1200,00 per annum per person- which means over 330 crews with a total saving back in their pockets of over R400 000  per year.”

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File Photo: Bags full of ice used for storage of fish in fishing in South Africa’s commercial fishing vessels

According to SAMSA, all licensed fishing companies in South Africa are aware of the MOS Regulations.1994, yet violation remains prevalent in a sector where no less than 3000 fishermen – in the southern region of the country at least – remain exposed to industry practices that leave them financing certain items of their workplace Personal Protective Clothing/Equipment (PPE) contrary to provisions of the law.

In the process, what earnings fishermen made during their employment were significantly reduced, with massive negative impacts to their social lives.

A victory for SA fishermen!

“This is a victory for the fishermen as it will result in a saving for each and every fisherman, with money back in their accounts,” said SAMSA, further noting that enforcement will continue to ensure that all companies adhere to the regulations and that where they are found to have failed, it is made sure that they are “dealt with in accordance with the regulations.”

 

Regular consultations and information sharing continues with the sector about the issues, the latest meeting having taken place in Cape Town in July this year.

According to SAMSA, South Africa as a Member State of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and with close relations with the International Labour Organization (ILO), is not only committed to ensuring compliance with own legislation but also with ensuring implementation of various other international related instruments including the ILO’s Working in Fishing Convention 188 (2007) relating to the promotion of fishermen and fishing vessels safety and working conditions.

 

In fact, the country has been praised globally for its leading role in the promotion of fishermen and fishing vessels’ safety the world over, particularly in the last 13 years and during which period accidents and deaths have reduced in South Africa from double to single digits per annum.

The ILO in particular recently heaped praised on South Africa, but SAMSA in particular for its contribution to the development of the implementation of Convention 188 and which was historically implemented in this country for the first time in December 2017.

South Africa has also been a major contributor to the IMO’s ‘Cape Town Agreement’ On the Implementation of the Provisions of Torremolinos Protocol of 1993 relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977.

SAMSA PromoGif

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Fishing vessels due for display of flag State on international waters: IMO

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Pretoria: 27 October 2017

Fishing vessels on international waters may soon be expected to display their identities prominently, in the form of flags of States in which they registered, should the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Assembly pass a resolution proposing this at its scheduled meeting in November 2017.

This is according to the IMO in an article published on Thursday reflecting on progress achieved during a five day seminar for Anglophone African countries held in Cape Town a week ago focused on an agreement on global fishing vessels safety being canvassed for ratification and implementation.

The seminar at the Castle of Good Hope from Monday to Friday (16-20 October) was the second for African countries and seventh in the series since the founding of the IMO ‘Cape Town Agreement by 58 countries in the same city five years ago.

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Ms Sandra Allnut. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) head of Maritime Technology Safety Division.

Ms Sandra Rita Allnut, the head of Maritime Technology in IMO’s Maritime Safety Division led the IMO team for the Cape Town seminar attended by 10  Africa Anglophone region countries last week, and in her view, the gathering achieved its main objectives.

Earlier seminars organized jointly by the IMO  and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) were held in the Cook Islands (28 August – 1 September 2017), also involving 10 countries in the Pacific region; in Côte d’Ivoire (December 2016), for 12 countries from the Africa Francophone region; in Indonesia (April 2015), for 11 countries from the East Asia region; in Belize (October 2014), for 13 countries in the Caribbean; and in Peru (June 2014), for 12 countries in Latin America.

The aim of these seminars according to Ms Allnut was to promote ratification of The Cape Town Agreement 2012 as a means to bringing into effect the provisions of the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, which was later modified by the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol.

In ratifying the 2012 Agreement, she said, IMO member States would be giving consent to amendments to the provisions of the 1993 Protocol, thereby facilitating their coming  into force as soon as possible thereafter.

In terms of the arrangement this would require at least 22 IMO member States to give effect to the treaty coming into force in no less than 12 months after endorsement.

DSC_1750However, additional conditions include that the agreement ratifying member States operating on the high seas would need to have an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over, collectively.

So far, only seven countries have ratified the Cape Town Agreement: Congo, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway and South Africa and together, they have an  aggregate stock of 884 fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over, operating on the high seas.

DSC_1771 (3)At conclusion of last week’s seminar at Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, an undertaking was given that South Africa, actively and closely working with the IMO, would assist African countries with legal and technical expertise where needed.

South Africa would also share such other expertise as may be necessary including a draft of regulations aimed at giving effect to ratification and implementation of the IMO Cape Town Agreement.

Meanwhile, in an article by the IMO on Thursday, reflecting on the South Africa hosted seminar last week, the organization said moves to promote global safety of both fishing vessels as well as fishing workers were gaining ground in a number of key areas.

DSC_1728According to the IMO, these included the entry into force of treaties under the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the FAO – among these, the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (Convention No. 188) effective 16 November 2017.

The treaty sets minimum requirements for work on board fishing vessels, including hours of rest, food, minimum age and repatriation.

In addition, a number of proposals to address illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, focusing on key areas of vessel identification; flag and port state performance; training and implementation of relevant instruments; and environmental issues were recently agreed by the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III).

In further progress, in late November 2017, the IMO Assembly is expected to adopt a resolution to extend the IMO ship identification number scheme, on a voluntary basis, to all fishing vessels that are more than 12 metres in length and authorized to operate outside waters under national jurisdiction of the flag State.

According to the IMO, the move is anticipated to contribute to the maintenance of a global record on registered fishing vessels.

To read the full IMO report published on Thursday, Click Here

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Seventh IMO seminar in SA on fishermen safety globally, hopeful of Africa support.

DSC_1747 (2)Cape Town: 17 October 2017

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the host of this week’s seminar on the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ for the safety and security of fishermen across the globe is confident it will have secured enough support from more African countries by weekend for implementation of the now five year agreement.

Also counting on a more favorable support from fellow African countries is South Africa, the first among seven countries worldwide to formally ratify the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ – named as such as it was founded in the Western Cape city of South Africa by as many as 58 countries in 2012.

DSC_1750.JPGThis week’s seminar that began on Monday and lasting five days until Friday (20 October) at the historic Castle of Good Hope, a stone’s throw from Cape Town’s central business district, is the seventh in a series being held by the IMO worldwide since founding of the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ five years ago.

DSC_1771.JPGIt is the third in Africa – the first having been for French-speaking or Francophone countries, followed by one held for Asian countries.

This week’s gathering, involving about 50 delegates from several African countries in central and southern Africa as well as Europe, is intended for English-speaking or Anglophone countries, said seminar leader, IMO’s head of Marine Technology and GBS Maritime Safety Division, Ms Sandra Rita Allnut in a brief interview on Monday.

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Captain Nigel Campbell

South Africa, the first of the few countries to formally ratify the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ that essentially seeks to enforce measures in IMO member States that will ensure the safety and security of fishermen, inclusive of the vessels they use for trade, has welcomed the IMO’s choice of the country as the venue for the Anglophone countries’ week-long seminar, expressing hope it will provide the platform for greater member awareness and support for the agreement.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Nigel Campbell said the IMO member States’ greater awareness campaign was crucial to African countries ratifying the agreement for implementation soon.

Captain Campell said he believed this week’s session with potential supporters from African countries, would bring closer to an end the strife for greater security of African and global fishing operations personnel safety.

For Captain Campbell’s full remarks, click on the video  below.

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Mr Elcidio Agostinho

Meanwhile, among maritime countries in southern Africa seemingly likely to ratify the IMO ‘Cape Town Agreement’ is neighboring Mozambique.

Representative, Mr Elcidio Agostunho, an international relations technician for Mozambique’s National Maritime Authority under the Department of Transport and Communications, said the IMO’s ‘Cape Town Agreement’ was a well-intended instrument likely useful for fishermen everywhere.

He described it as unfortunate that many IMO member States had not ratified it yet in order to ensure implementation, but was hopeful that Mozambique would follow the example of South Africa in giving the agreement the support it deserves.

For his full remarks, click on the video below.

For more videos on the seminar, go to the Audio and Video page.

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International maritime agreement seminar on safety of fishermen and vessels globally underway in Cape Town

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Cape Town: 16 October 2017

Delegates from several African and European countries have gathered in Cape Town on Monday for a five day seminar to examine and discuss progress towards implementation of an international agreement on safety of fishermen in Africa and other parts of the world.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) hosted seminar underway at the Castle of Good Hope, is being held in the city of the birth of the agreement five years ago, and by which it is named: The IMO Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the 1993 Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convetion for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977.

As many as 58 States attended the founding of the agreement in Cape Town in 2012.

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Ms Sandra Rita Allnut. IMO Head of Marine Technology and GBS Maritime Safety Division

This week, leading the IMO delegation to chair the seminar is London based head of marine technology and GBS in the IMO Marine Safety Division, Ms Sandra Rita Allnut.

According to Ms Allnut in a brief interview before start of the seminar, the agreement is a crucial instrument that will, once fully ratified, be binding on all countries in the interest of ensuring the safety and welfare of fishermen globally.

However, although it breathed life for the first time back in 2012 in Cape Town, it was still in its early stages of development.

For the agreement to come into force, she said; it requires 22 IMO member States to sign it, as well as the registration of 3 600 fishing vessels in the fleet of the contracting states.

So far, she said, only seven countries had ratified the Cape Town Agreement, with only 884 vessels registered. South Africa is among the countries that have already signed.

Once the required numbers were in place, it would take approximately 12 months for the agreement to come to force. After more than 40 years of the IMO trying to have in place a binding agreement with members States for the sake of safety of fishermen worldwide, this was now overdue, she said.

Ms Allnut, explains this week’s week-long seminar in detail in the video below (approximately 5 minutes duration).

Meanwhile, in its welcome of both the IMO and the participating member States in the Cape Town seminar, the South African government said it particularly appreciated the IMO’s return to the country and city for further engagements over the global fishermen safety agreement.

In remarks welcoming the more than 50 delegates early on Monday, Mr Tlou Matlala, Department of Transport (DoT) assistant director; Maritime Policy, Development and Legislation said the gesture reflected on the good relationship the country enjoyed with IMO member states.

For his remarks lasting just over a minute, Click Here

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