MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Aiming to enhance the safety measures on Philippine fishing vessels traversing to high seas and its crew, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) participated in the technical seminar on the International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s Cape Town Agreement (CTA) and the international convention on the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for fishing vessel  (STCW-F) personnel held in Manila.

Prior to the event, the MARINA brought international maritime experts at the Navotas Fishport Complex in Navotas City for a short observation on the available on-board safety equipment, safety certifications, and working conditions of the fishing crew members in one of the vessels berthed at the port area.

The gathered information were then used as points of discussion at the two-day event with representatives from the IMO Regional Presence in East Asia, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Food and Agriculture Organization, Apostleship of the Sea, First Safety Foundation, and the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

MARINA Deputy Administrator for Operations Nanette Villamor – Dinopol welcomed the international maritime experts in the Philippines and expressed MARINA’s willingness to promote a safe culture in the fishing industry, specifically in the construction and the design of fishing vessels, as well as the working conditions of the crew members.

As a matter of fact, the MARINA Board has recently approved the Philippine Fishing Vessels Rules and Regulations (FVRR) for enhanced regulation of Philippine-registered, both domestic and foreign, fishing vessels.

At the event, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) presented the positive impacts of ratifying the CTA which included the reduction in accidents involving fishing crew members, intensification of control and surveillance over fishing vessels navigating inside a country’s exclusive economic zone, and the overall improvement in the safety culture in the fishing industry.

Another major discussion were the risks brought about by illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing that are noted to be more evident on developing and coastal countries like the Philippines. The FAO emphasized how IUU fishing could lead to drug smuggling and human trafficking, if remained uncontrolled by the state.

To date, 10 countries including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Republic of Congo, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and South Africa representing 1,020 fishing vessels of 24 or more meters in length have ratified the CTA, allowing them to practice sustainable fishing and uphold the safety of fishing crew members within their respective areas of jurisdiction, among others.