Nigeria has moved closer to protecting its waters against international poachers, as the country signed the ‘Torremolinos Declaration’ under the Cape Town Agreement on safe fishing.
The Torremolinos Conference was to promote the ratification of the Cape Town Agreement, which aims to deter the proliferation of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, by establishing international safety standards for fishing vessels.
The 48 countries, including Nigeria, which signed the declaration are determined to ensure that the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety will enter into force by the 10th anniversary of its adoption (October 11, 2022).
Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea are currently faced with challenges of illegal fishing, but when the deal is ratified, it will improve the safety of life at sea for hundreds of thousands of fishers worldwide, who currently do not benefit from a global mandatory regime for fishing vessel safety. It is also seen as key tool in combating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
Speaking on the development, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim, noted that the organisation has once again returned to Torremolinos to finish the effort started more than 40 years ago, when the first global treaty to address safety of fishing vessels was adopted in Torremolinos in 1977 (it did not enter into force then).
He said: “In 2019, with this conference, we now have a broader consensus on the urgent need for the Cape Town Agreement to enter into force, as a significant contribution to the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry.
“This work must now continue, in a proactive and cooperative manner, to bring the agreement into force as soon as possible, so that fishers around the world can enjoy the safety and welfare benefits,” Lim said.
He, however, noted that “There is no time to lose. If the fishing sector remains insufficiently regulated, fishing-related activities will continue to cause more fatalities; pollute our oceans; place SAR services at risk, and harm developing states affected by illegal fishing activities,” Lim said.
Nigeria has signed the instrument has not only pledged to promote the agreement, but also agreed to deploy capacities as a flag state, port state, and coastal state to act in tandem with the declaration, in carrying out safety inspections of fishing vessels, thereby increasing control and transparency of fishing activities.
The Cape Town Agreement includes mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 metres 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 24m in length and over, have expressed their consent to be bound by it.
Presently, 48 countries have so far signed the declaration, including: Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Congo (Republic), Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, and Guinea (Republic), Others are Guinea Bissau, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of Korea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vanuatu. The Declaration is open for further signatures until October 21, 2020.