Mr. Chairman, Honorable Ministers, your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to have this opportunity to attend the Second Joint Ministerial Conference of the Paris and Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding.
I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to the Canadian Government for arranging this conference here in the beautiful city of Vancouver.
Iceland depends on safe and reliable transport by sea. Now, being the only alternative to air transport, about 98% of all imports and exports is shipped via sea routes.
Still today, the economy of Iceland depends heavily upon fisheries. Over 60% of the value of goods export of Iceland is fish and fish products. In view of this, it is of fundamental importance for Iceland to maintain a stable and sustainable fishing industry and a safe and a secure marine transport to and from the country. The tourism sector has grown considerably in Iceland during the last decades, which has inter alia resulted in a substantial growth in passenger ship visits in Icelandic ports in the last few years. For all those reasons Iceland attaches great importance to maritime safety, maritime security and unpolluted oceans. One important aspect of this are recent amendments to the MARPOL convention as addressed in the declaration.
Most of the sea transport to and from Iceland is operated with foreign flag ships which are of course subject to control by their flag states. As a port state, Iceland would like to have confidence in that relevant flag states, shipping companies and the crews work together to ensure compliance to relevant international instruments. Unfortunately, the pressure to revert to substandard shipping for competitive reasons imposes unacceptable risk on safety and security as well as well as for pollution incidents to happen. Consequently, I must say, port State control is a necessity.
Today about 350 ships call Icelandic harbors yearly and most of them several times. Some are used by local shipping companies for scheduled service. Port State Control officers inspect about 25% of all ships calling Iceland or 82 ships. Notices are given quite often and in some instances ships have been detained until necessary measures were taken.
Just like at the first Joint Ministerial Conference, we are now facing new challenges for the future that require new action by the member authorities of both Memoranda. Iceland fully supports the actions listed in the Declaration that we have in front of us.
Mr chairman, there are three issues I would like to emphasize. In particular, we are happy to see that the two Memoranda will now be instructed to address the illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, the so-called IUU Fishing. IUU fishing is a real problem that not only undermines sustainable fisheries but also has substantial safety risk implications.
According to data from some UN agencies, fishing is the world’s most dangerous occupation with more than 24,000 deaths per year. It is therefore disappointing that neither the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol on the Safety of Fishing Vessels nor the 1995 STCW-F Convention for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of Fishing Vessel Personnel have yet entered into force. Global and effective implementation of these two instruments could reduce the unacceptable loss of life and help in combating IUU Fishing.
In paragraph 5.7 of the Joint Ministerial Declaration, a determination is expressed to urge member states of both Memoranda that have not ratified all relevant instruments to do so as soon as possible.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to use this opportunity to encourage governments that have not already done so, to ratify the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol and the 1995 STCW-F Convention and thereby contribute to their entry into force.
I thank you all for your kind attention.