UN-backed treaty seeking to save fishermen’s lives to come into force next September

5 October 2011

A United Nations-backed treaty that seeks to slash the 24,000 lives estimated to be lost each year during fishing operations around the world will come into force next September, over 17 years after it was adopted by the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The treaty received its 15th ratification, by Palau, on 29 September, setting in motion the 12-month clock for its entry into force, with a regulatory framework for the training and certification of crews employed on board seagoing fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and above.

“Unfortunately the fishing sector is still experiencing a large number of fatalities every year,” IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel, 1995 (STCW-F 1995).

“The safety of fishermen and fishing vessels forms an integral part of the organization’s mandate,” he added, noting that a variety of technical and legal obstacles had prevented the STCW-F Convention from coming into force until now.

IMO called the annual estimated death toll of more than 24,000 fishermen “a most deplorable record indeed,” and recognised the need for a response to the safety crisis.

The convention is expected to bring considerable benefits and advantages to the fishing industry, improving the quality of education and training provided to personnel employed in fishing vessels, and enhancing the standard of training and safety in the fishing industry and fishing vessel fleets, it said.

“The STCW-F Convention will contribute to the reduction of casualties, and will go a long way to improve the present poor safety record of the global fishing industry,” it added.

The convention has now been ratified by Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Kiribati, Latvia, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Russia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Syria and Ukraine.

The London-based IMO, which has 170 Member States, is responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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