By Bernice Bessey
Of the categories of dangerous occupations around the globe, fishing has been identified as one, claiming an estimated 24,000 annually, with merchant ships even recording ten times the number.
The cause has been attributed the lack of proper regulations on the safety of people working in this industry, since crews are left to the exploitative practices of owners and operators, while most of their illicit activities go undetected and unpunished.
However, the rising incidents of casualties and fatalities in the industry have called the need for the ratification and implementation of the Torremolinos Convention on the Safety of fishing vessels.
A training seminar for the ratification and implementation of the Cape Town Agreement (CTA) of 2012, and Provisions of the1993 Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the safety of finishing vessels, has been organised by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for sister countries in Accra.
The seminar, which started yesterday, brought together participants from other countries in Africa, and seeks to implement the 2012 CTA adopted by the IMO to outline regulations designed to protect the safety of the crews and observers, while providing an equal playing field for the industry.
Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, Minister for Transport, addressing the participants, indicated that it was important the agreement be adopted, since it is important that the requisite regulations and rules are put in place to streamline and promote safe operations in the fishing sector.
Furthermore, the agreement has “no more favourable treatment” clauses, which means that all vessels entering a port of a state that is a party to the agreement would be subjected to the same inspection standards, even if their flag state has not ratified or acceded to it.
The Minister noted: “This is intended to encourage states to ratify the agreement.”
The week-long seminar, he said, was intended “to encourage open discussions on a matter that is of concern, not only to us in Ghana, but the global economy as a whole.”
The Director General of the GMA, Thomas Kofi Alonsi, on his part, reiterated that dangers fishers are exposed to are due to lack of safety and health concerns of those who design, construct and operate most of the fishing vessels.
He added that since the fishing industry is quite a dangerous industry, the players must ensure the requisite international regulations are put in place, and enforced to help curb the menace.
Sadly, he said, the IMO, over the years, has worked hard towards putting the necessary regulations in place, but, so far, these efforts had not been successful, hence, the organising of the seminar.
“It is against this backdrop that the IMO is organising this seminar to encourage the member states, particularly in our region, to ratify the convention, with a view to enhancing the safety of fishing vessels,” he stressed.
At the end of the seminar, the participants, on the other hand, are expected to gain the needed knowledge that would help them convince stakeholders in the various member states to consider the significance of the CTA, and the positive implications of its ratification.