The international community has entered a new age with regard to the perception of natural resources and their utilization. Global understanding about the importance of sustainable and ecologically sound harvesting of depletable resources is growing, and so too is the concept that all nations share the ensuing responsibility. This is both the result of and the root for the development in international agreements and legislation concerning the utilization of natural resources, which took place in the last decades of the twentieth century- in particular the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (The 1982 UN Convention) and the United Nations Convention on Environmental Development (UNCED).
The new legal regime of the oceans gives coastal states rights and responsibilities for the management and use of fishery resources within their EEZs, which embrace some 90% of the world's marine fisheries. This coincides with clear indications of overexploitation in many waters, motivating national governments to bring fisheries under proper control. One obvious instrument of control is the issuing of fishing authorizations to both vessels and crew.
This opens up new possibilities for promoting safety at sea. Throughout the twentieth century, safety issues were promoted almost exclusively on a voluntary basis, with limited results. By making safety requirements prerequisites to fisheries authorization, progress is guaranteed. To fish legally will be to fish safely. Such a step will require a change of attitude within the fisheries, and consequently a firm motivation on behalf of the legislators, but, given that fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations known on earth, this progress seems inevitable.
When giving advice, FAO will advocate a holistic approach to fisheries management for developing countries and include safety at sea as an integral part of the management regime. This will be reflected in the active use of the Code of Conduct to promote and monitor issues pertaining to safety at sea.