1 November 2006
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to ratify the International Marine Organisation’s Torremolinos Convention. 
Dr. Ladyman: European Directive 97/70/EC implemented a harmonised safety regime based on the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol. The safety standards were subsequently enhanced by Directive 2002/35/EC. The Government consider these standards exceed the requirements of the Protocol and that its ratification is therefore no longer necessary.
Gadfly: It is suggested that there are three reasons why the UK should attach more importance to the 1977 Convention and 1993 Protocol:
1. Safety: There are about 24,000 fatalities in the world fishing industry annually. While the UK fishing fleet meets the safety provisions that are required by the Torremolinos Convention, failure to ratify this Convention at the International level contributes to the fact that sub-standard, foreign flagged vessels and fishermen will continue to be lost.
2. Economic: The UK‘s fishermen have to operate within a regime that is tightly regulated and this has a price. They also have to compete in a world market in which unregulated vessels, having lower overheads, are also able to land fish and this both reduces fish stocks and undermines market prices.
3. Environmental: It is important that fish stocks are regulated effectively and fairly. In this respect, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) continues to be a major problem and one that is contributing to the collapse of fish stocks both in the EU and globally. Ratification and implementation of the Torremolinos Convention is considered by both the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) to be a key plank in the fight against IUU.
As the Minister advises, the UK has already implemented the EU safety regime, based on Torremolinos, which governs safety matters within the UK’s fishing fleet. Ratification of this Convention at the IMO is a necessary formality that will impose no additional costs on the UK Fishing Industry.
More Parliamentary Questions, Answers and Comments to come...