June 5: Int Day for the Fight against Illegal Fishing

Statement by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, International Maritime Orgnization (IMO)

Fishing is essential – providing nutritious food and employment around the globe.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing is a blight on the fishing sector. 

IUU fishing threatens the sustainability of the fishing sector and puts lives at risks. IUU fishing vessels often lack proper safety equipment. Personnel on board may be subject to harsh and unsafe working conditions, and in some cases, forced labour. IUU vessels may be more likely to discard fishing gear, degrading the environment, damaging fisheries, and causing a risk to vessels as the nets or lines can become entangled in boat propellers or cause engine damage.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) promotes safe and legal fishing. Since the 2019 Torremolinos Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, we are building momentum to achieve the entry into force of a key international treaty applicable to commercial fishing vessels, the 2012 Cape Town Agreement.

This treaty will enact global, mandatory requirements for the design, construction and equipping of fishing vessels, including life-saving, fire protection and radio-communications equipment. The 2012 Cape Town Agreement provides a robust legal framework for flag State survey and certification of fishing vessels, casualty investigation and port State control.

When the 2012 Cape Town Agreement enters into force, it will improve the safety of life at sea for hundreds of thousands of fishers worldwide. The treaty is also a key component in the fight against IUU fishing, allowing for enhanced cooperation among global inspection regimes.

Enactment of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement will help protect economies by preventing illegally caught fish, prevent depletion of world fish stocks, protect fishers from human rights abuse and provide an additional basis to tackle the problem of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been working closely with its UN partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to tackle IUU fishing. In cooperation with our agency partners and with non-governmental organizations, in particular the Pew Charitable Trusts, a series of regional webinars has been organized to further promote the ratification and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement. This effort has brought together a wide range of stakeholders from transport and fisheries agencies.

FAO’s Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), 2009, the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (Convention No. 188) and IMO’s STCW-F Convention on certification and training of fishers all combine to combat IUU fishing. The 2012 Cape Town agreement, once in force, will sit alongside the treaties which are already supporting a better regulated fishing sector: 

These treaties, constituting four pillars of regulation, will work to support the eradication of IUU fishing.

On the International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, I call on all States, who have not yet done so, to become a Party to the 2012 Cape Town Agreement.

Together, we can fight the scourge of IUU fishing.

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