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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement21 October 2019Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries1 min read

EU seeks entry into force of world-wide agreement on safety of fishing vessels

The EU will encourage the ratification of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on safety of fishing vessels at the Ministerial Conference on Safe and Legal Fishing hosted by Spain jointly with the International Maritime Organization in Torremolinos, Spain on 21-23 October 2019.

This agreement will contribute to improved ocean governance by putting in place basic international safety requirements for fishing vessels. This will also help to counter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing as poor safety standards are a hallmark of vessels whose operators under-report catch or fish illegally or minimize costs by all means, infringing law, endangering their crew and compromising the security of their vessel.

The 2012 Cape Town Agreement requires a total of 22 ratifying countries with an aggregate total fishing fleet of 3,600 vessels in order for the agreement to come into force. To date, a total of 11 countries with an aggregate fleet of 2,400 have ratified the convention, including 6 EU countries - Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

The European Commission sees an urgent need to establish a global framework. The ratification of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement would create a global level playing field with the following benefits:

  • An upgrade of safety for people working on board of fishing vessels and the fishing vessel sector, which has one of the worst fatality records of any industry.
  • Supporting the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by establishing international safety standards for fishing vessels.
  • An opportunity to update the current technical requirements in the Agreement to reflect developments in safety management.

In the EU, as elsewhere, fishing is still a high-risk profession. In 2017, 203 injuries were recorded on fishing vessels and 13 fishermen lost their lives due to incidents at sea. A significant improvement compared to the 60 fatalities in 2014. Improving safety at sea is an essential part of the EU’s commitment to ocean governance and to the wellbeing of our 150,000 fishers and their families. By 15 November, Member States will have to comply with an EU directive transposing the ILO Work in Fishing Convention. The European Commission is also taking positive measures in all sea basins. For example, In the Mediterranean, the EU is creating a virtual regional academy. Coordinated by the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), this project will help train fisheries inspectors and standardise procedures for cross-border operations.


Publication date
21 October 2019
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries