London, 25 June 2022 – On the Day of the Seafarer, 110 years after the Titanic disaster, leading UK retailers and seafood companies operating across the globe are calling upon all Flag States involved in their supply chain to ratify the Cape Town Agreement for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, to finally put the protection of fishers’ lives at sea on an equal footing with that of seafarers’.
UK seafood retailers and businesses committed to improving human rights and labour standards in the fishing sector are calling on more than 40 Flag States involved in their supply chain to deliver on their commitment to protect fishers’ safety at sea, which is a priority for the fishing industry.
On the Day of the Seafarer, with only 4 months left to make a major international treaty protecting fishers’ lives at sea a success, the Seafood Ethics Action Alliance (SEA Alliance) – which gathers processors, retailers and food service businesses representing more than 70% of retail food sales in the UK – stresses that it is no longer possible for Flag States to overlook fishers’ safety at sea.
The Cape Town Agreement for the Safety of Fishing Vessels was adopted by the International Maritime Organisation in 2012 and aims to make every commercial fishing vessel a safe working place, from stem to stern. The safety of seafarers at sea was made a priority after the Titanic disaster in 1912, which resulted in the adoption of the very first convention for the protection of the safety of life at sea in 1914. But 110 years after this tragedy, there is still no international treaty to protect the safety of fishers.
Two treaties were negotiated on fishers’ safety in 1977 and 1993, but neither of them entered into force. Therefore, fishers have been waiting for more than 45 years for an international treaty to protect their lives at sea. To change this situation, 51 States signed the Torremolinos Declaration in 2019 to commit to ratify the Cape Town Agreement by October 2022. Six States committed or reasserted their commitment at the One Ocean Summit in February 2022.
“The Cape Town Agreement is one of the three international treaties which aim to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and poor labour standards, together with the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), and the ILO Work in Fishing Convention (C.188)”, the SEA Alliance says. “Whereas C.188 and PSMA are already in force, the Cape Town Agreement is the missing link which could strengthen international law, since catch control, decent working conditions and safe vessels are three complementary and indivisible conditions to end illegal fishing activities.”