In a release, the Ministry of Marine Resources said Cook Islands had submitted its Instrument of Accession to the Cape Town Agreement to the International Maritime Organisation, which outlines fishing vessel standards and regulations designed to protect the safety of crews and observers.
The agreement addresses a gap in international maritime law where there are no mandatory global safety regulations for fishing vessels.
It also aims to maintain better control of fishing vessel safety by flag, port and coastal States and contribute to the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The Ministry of Marine Resources has argued Illegal fishing is often associated with abject working conditions that some crews face on board fishing vessels which the country is responding to.
Acceding to the Capetown Agreement adds to work the Ministry is progressing to improve fishing vessel crew safety and welfare, complementing the adoption of the WCPFC Conservation and management measure for the Safety and Protection of Fisheries Observers in 2016
Although Cook Islands may not have carrier vessels that operate under the Cook Islands flag, and our own domestic licensed foreign-flagged fishing vessel fleets appear not to be involved directly with trans-shipping at sea, analysts have warned spill-over effects on the issue which could impact the Cook Islands in the longer term.
Improving crew conditions on foreign fishing vessels is an important issue, said the Ministry of Marine Resources.
The Capetown treaty will enter into force with a collective of 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and fishing vessels operating on the high seas have expressed their consent to the agreement.