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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

Boosting fishing vessel safety, a priority for FAO and the IMO

FAO Director-General meets International Maritime Organization Secretary-General
FAO Director-General and International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General at their meeting today.

9 June2014, Rome – FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today met International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General, Koji Sekimizu, who visited FAO’s Headquarters to address the opening of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI).

Graziano da Silva and Sekimizu agreed on the importance to increase efforts aimed at improving safety within the fishing sector. They also discussed the urgent need for countries to implement  the Torremolinos Protocol and the Cape Town Agreement, which were adopted to create international standards for the safety of fishing vessels.

Both agreed that although these instruments are an IMO convention, FAO and the fishing industry can offer much help in their implementation. Graziano da Silva said that he would urge ministers attending COFI to support the implementation of the Torremolimos Protocol by ratifying the Cape Town Agreement.

“The fishing industry does not have an acceptable safety record,” Sekimizu said in his address to COFI, adding that this was for a significant part due to “the lack of an effective, global regulatory regime.” The IMO Secretary-General added he hoped this instrument will be accepted by Member States “without further delay”.

“FAO and the IMO must spare no effort to work together as one and to deliver as one,” Sekimizu noted during this remarks. He highlighted that the very idea of the Cape Town Agreement, was considered by a joint ad hoc working group on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU). It provided “an excellent example” of cooperation between the two organizations.

The IMO Secretary-General highlighted the fact that FAO’s report on the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture issued last month shows that more people than ever before rely on fisheries and aquaculture for food and as a source of income. “This reinforces our understanding that oceans and fisheries are genuinely vital resources and how crucial it is that we protect them, preserve them and manage them,” he stressed.

As an example of enhanced cooperation between the two agencies, Sekimizu also noted the “significant breakthrough” made last December when the IMO Assembly adopted a resolution that allows countries to extend the application of the IMO Ship Identification Number Scheme to fishing vessels, thereby enabling the IMO Number to be used as the Unique Vessel identifier in FAO’s Global Record for fishing vessels. This move offers the potential for a “new era of transparency in fisheries”, making control measures harder to circumvent and vessels more accountable and visible to fisheries, he added.

In his address during the COFI opening ceremony, the FAO Director-General stressed that “promoting fisheries and aquaculture has to be seen as an important part of contributing to food security”.

Please watch the video interview with IMO Secretary-General here.