Fishing vessel safety

SPC and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), through the EU-funded DEVFISH project, are reviewing international tools for improved fishing vessel safety and provides assistance to members on these matters.

This work relates to 2 international conventions:

1)    The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel sets out the regulatory framework for the training and certification of fishing vessel personnel. The convention is the first attempt to make safety standards for crews of fishing vessels mandatory internationally.

2)    The Torremolinos Protocol established a safety regime for fishing vessels of more than 24 m including safety provisions of the protocol cover construction, stability, machinery, fire protection, protection of crew, lifesaving equipment, emergency procedures, radio communication, navigation equipment, vessel certification and port state control.

Some of the likely impacts of the Torremolinos Protocol and 1995 STCW-F Convention on the Pacific Islands were discussed during a regional seminar held in Fiji in March 2006. The following points were noted:

• The Pacific is well ahead of other regions in that it already has training and certification standards for fishing vessel personnel. In the mid 1990s, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) developed a common certification structure for trading and fishing vessels, which is regularly revised by a subcommittee of the Pacific Islands Maritime Association (PacMa). Most Pacific Island countries have adopted it.

• A number of model training programmes for fishing vessel personnel are available and used throughout the region (e.g. SPC Safety Certificate, SPC/Pacific Island Qualified Fishing Deckhand Certificate, etc.). The pre-sea induction training system
used in Papua New Guinea is also aligned with the requirements of STCW-F for basic pre-sea safety training for all fishing vessel personnel.

• While the protocol and convention apply to large fishing vessels (>24 m), it is possible for national laws to extend their applicability to smaller classes of vessels.

• National administrations and the regional fishing industry need to be familiar with the provisions of the protocol and convention and prepare for their entry into force. The current status of requirements and standards in the region means that their
effective implementation should be relatively straightforward.

• Due to the current limited number of signatories, ratification of the protocol and convention by Pacific Island countries could drive their entry into force.

• SPC could underpin a regional mechanism and be the focal agency in assisting countries with the implementation of the protocol and convention.

The attached brochure contains more information about relevant protocols, their impact on Pacific islands and the work of the DEVFISH project on these issues.

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