The Ministerial Conference on Safety of Fishing Vessels and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing commenced today in Torremolinos Spain.

The Ministerial Conference is in line to the Cape Town Agreement (2012) which was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The Cape Town Agreement outlines fishing vessel standards and regulations designed to protect the safety of crews and observers and provide a level playing field for industry.

The Agreement will enter into force once 22 States with a combined 3,600 eligible fishing vessels ratify or accede.

Taking this step will bring fishing vessel operators into the same compliance as other maritime vessels and end practices that place crews at risk.

The Pacific Region is being represented by the Prime Minister of Cook Islands, and Ministers from Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Vanuatu and Marshall Islands.

The Fiji Government is led by the Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport,  Jone Usamate and officials from the respective ministries.

In delivering the keynote address during the Ministerial Segment, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, His Excellency, Peter Thompson, spoke of his experience while growing up in Fiji and how he witnessed firsthand the difficulty faced by seafarers when sailing to the most remote islands around Fiji.

“Standards to protect seafarers is important as it contributes to measures aimed at addressing IUU fishing and the sustainable protection of marine resources and habitats,” said Thompson.

While delivering his country statement,  Koroilavesau highlighted Fiji’s commitment to address the issues of IUU and improved labour standards on board fishing vessels.

“Fiji shares the global concern that Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems due to its potent ability to undermine national and regional efforts to manage fisheries sustainably as well as endeavor to conserve marine biodiversity,” said  Koroilavesau.

Koroilavesau reminded participating countries and observers of the importance of understanding the limitations and aspiration of developing states and how much support is needed to help realise Small Island developing states aspirations.

“We need to support the progress of work on the Cape Town Agreement to the best of our ability in recognition of our sovereignty as we ensure the sustainable management of our shared marine resources under a more safer fishing environment that addresses IUU.”

The Ministerial conference will concludes today with additional countries signing on to the Cape Town Agreement.

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