Philippines. Photo by Darren Mitchell - FISH Safety Foundation

Exploring the Fundamental Treaties that Shape Global Fishing Practices

FISH Safety Foundation recognises the importance of international treaties and conventions that protect the rights of fishers, promote safety in the industry, and prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The Work in Fishing Convention 2007, (C.188)

Administered by the International Labour Organization (ILO), C.188 promotes decent working conditions on board fishing vessels. Minimum standards covered include requirements regarding age of workers, hours of work and rest, adequate food and refreshments on board, repatriation of workers, employment agreements, medical treatment and protection regarding sickness, injury, and death.

C.188 entered into force in 2017 and has had 20 ratifications worldwide as of March 2022. (link:

The Cape Town Agreement, 2012

Administered by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the CTA provides minimum standards relating to the safety of fishing vessels through the design, construction, equipment requirements and inspection of fishing vessels 24 metres in length and over or equivalent in gross tonnes.

The CTA will enter into force when 22 States, the combined applicable fishing vessel fleet of which exceed 3,600 in number, accede to the Agreement. As of March 2022, 16 states had acceded, with a further 6 indicating accession would occur in 2022.


The Port State Measures Agreement

The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) is administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and aims to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches.

IUU fishing operators will also frequently adopt practices that create a risk to fisher crew safety and may even engage in human rights violations. Preventing, deterring, and eliminating these operations is therefore crucial for the overall wellbeing of fishers working at sea.

The PSMA came into force in 2016 and has been widely ratified with over 70 states becoming parties to the Agreement.


STCW-F, 1995

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F) was adopted by IMO in 1995 and entered into force in 2012. This is a treaty that sets certification and minimum training requirements for crews of marine fishing vessels 24 meters in length and over. The overall aim of the convention is to provide training standards to promote safety at sea for fishers and to protect the marine environment.


We fully support the work that is underway across the globe to promote these core treaties and we are actively involved in this important work.

States that ratify these international documents create a clear foundation for safe, legal, and sustainable fishing within their industry fleets and territorial waters. It will also provide a platform to promote decent work within fishing – something that has not been given due attention previously and is now recognised as an important objective across the world, and one that is consistent with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

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