NZ signs on to Cape Town Agreement

16 December 2022

New Zealand expects to complete accession to the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 (CTA) in early 2023.

The CTA is an IMO convention dealing with design, construction, equipment and training standards for large commercial fishing vessels that operate on the high seas.

Associate Minister Kieran McAnulty has signed Maritime Rules Part 404 Design, Construction, and Equipment – New Zealand Cape Vessels and Foreign Cape Town Vessels (Part 404). This implements the CTA requirements into New Zealand domestic law, however the rules are now suspended until the CTA comes into force globally.

That occurs 12 months after at least 22 states, with a total number of 3600 fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over operating on the high seas, have acceded. In October, the IMO reported that 17 states had ratified the agreement.

The CTA will be an internationally binding instrument that will include compulsory requirements for stability and associated seaworthiness, machinery and electrical installations, life-saving appliances, communication equipment and fire safety, as well as fishing vessel construction.

About 24,000 people die each year in the global fishing industry, which currently has no mandatory international rules on fishing vessel safety. Vessels with poor safety standards and substandard working conditions are also often linked with illegal fishing practices and maritime pollution.

New Zealand’s fishing standards and its commercial fleet are already largely aligned with the CTA requirements, but “acceding to the CTA will contribute to maritime safety in our region through the exercise of port state control”, says Andrew Bell, manager of Maritime NZ’s International team.

You can read an update on the progress towards signing the CTA, and see the PDF of the finalised Rule here: Latest rule updates - Maritime NZ. The end section after the Rule contains a summary of the consultation process.

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