South Africa: Liberia Signs Cape Town Agreement

-- Commits to full compliance of Int'l Fisheries Protocols

The Liberian government, through the director general of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Mrs. Emma Glassco, has signed the Cape Town Agreement, committing to the full implementation of the international fisheries protocols, according to a release.

The Cape Town Agreement, the release said provides for standards, compliance on the minimum requirements on the design, construction, equipment, and inspection of fishing vessels of 24 meters and above operating on high seas and not the Exclusive Economic Zone.

Mrs. Glassco, who signed the Cape Town Agreement on Monday, October 21, 2019 in Spain at the Ministerial Conference on Fishing vessel safety and Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in Malaga, Spain, called on all members of the IMO states to consider signing the Cape Town Agreement as one of the important aspects of the process.

She added, "Liberia believes that by ratifying the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), member states will have the ability to significantly reduce the exploitation of both the oceans and the people, who depend on them."

Mrs. Glassco expressed the believe that "the agreement's entry into force would improve safety, and working conditions in one of the most dangerous professions in the world and minimize opportunities for unscrupulous operators to profit from the IUU fishing operations."

According to a dispatch from the women conference, Mrs. Glassco noted, "Let it be known that Liberia, as a Coastal State, Flag State, and Port State, has agreed to sign the CTA, and is committed to ensuring compliance in its National Fishing vessels inspectorate and Compliance programs."

As for the success story of Liberia in the Maritime world, Mrs. Glassco said, "Liberia as the second largest ship registry in the world, has made significant strides in ensuring a well-managed and professional maritime system in keeping with international protocol of the highest safety standards."

She continued, "Liberia was one of the first countries to sign onto the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention, as well as the 2006 Maritime Labor Convention."

She said that Liberia remains committed to ensuring that these international protocols and conventions are fully utilized in the management of its maritime sector.

Mrs. Glassco noted that today, the fisheries is now an independent entity of the Government by law as the NaFAA, with the responsibility to ensure the proper management of the Fisheries sector, covering fish resources, fishing vessels and crew, as well as fisher folks and fish farming.

As a leading National sector entity, Mrs. Glassco said the entity has established that the need to adopt international best practices for the governance of the sector cannot be overly emphasized, "and in achieving same, we have strengthened our inspectorate program under the MCS Division, as well as acceded to several international conventions, such as the IWC, FAO Post State Measure Agreement, and adopted a National Plan of Action on IUU."

She stressed that the Cape Town and Torremolinos agreements provide an opportunity to strengthen the country's already strong compliance program for safety of fishing vessels at high sea.

Mrs. Glassco acknowledged that since the development of the Torremolinos Agreement, and the Cape Town Agreement, Liberia has not signed onto the agreement, "as we have been engaged in consultations regarding the terms of the treaties."

She however said, "today we have recognized that the Agreements provide standards for compliance on the minimum requirements on the design, construction, equipment, and inspection of fishing vessels of 24 meters and above operating on high seas and not the EEZ."

Mrs. Glassco said that the Liberia Maritime Authority conducts safety inspection to conform to the International Conventions for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention for merchant ships, while this Agreement empowers the fisheries authority and other labor agencies to conduct a safety inspection of fishing vessels and crews in the country's Port that conforms to measures of safety.

She added, "We are aware that the treaty consists of minimum safety measures for fishing vessels that mirror the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) which is an internationally binding treaty on safety for merchant vessels that was entered into force in 1980 and calls for harmonized fisheries, labor, and safety inspections."

Mr. Glassco noted that as a coastal state, committing to the Agreement would provide higher safety standards for fishing vessels operating in our coastal waters. As such, she said that this would include minimizing risk to our nationals who work as crew and our observers on board these foreign-flagged vessels. She disclosed that "Liberia has a 100% Observer coverage for all domestic trawlers."

A dispatch quoting Mrs. Glassco said that the new standards for compliance may mitigate chance of vessel incidents in their waters such as foundering, fire, capsizing, or collision that would usually require assistance from their maritime authority or coast guard.

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