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Adopt Fishing Convention Work, ICSF Tells ILO

NEW ZEALAND - The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) has urged the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to adopt the proposed Work in Fishing Convention, 2007, which will address issues related to minimum requirements for work on board fishing vessels, and living and working conditions, as well as the social security, of fishers.

In a Statement wired to this correspondent on Thursday,ICSF pointed out: "It is high time that a socially-disadvantaged section—which includes both men and women, often forced to carry on earning a livelihood under adverse working and living conditions—finally benefits from an ILO instrument that guarantees decent work."

Considering the diversity of fishing operations around the world, the Statement said, it is commendable that the ILC Committee on the Fishing Sector could propose for adoption, a Convention and a Recommendation on work in the fishing sector that cover fishers on board both small- and large-scale fishing vessels with rigour and flexibility.

In its Statement, ICSF hoped there would be no delay in extending the benefits of the Convention to all fishers who fall within its scope. "ICSF requests governments to consider speedier ratification of this Convention on adoption, and also to consider extending its relevant provisions, where applicable, to shore-based fishers, especially women, in consultation with social partners."

ICSF is an international non-governmental organization that works towards the establishment of equitable, gender-just, self-reliant and sustainable fisheries, particularly in the small-scale, artisanal sector.

The full text of the statement however, reads:

  1. Two-thirds of the world's fish production originates mainly from marine capture fisheries that employ over 30 million fishers on board four million fishing vessels. It is high time that a socially disadvantaged section—which includes both men and women, often forced to carry on earning a livelihood under adverse working and living conditions—finally benefits from an ILO instrument that guarantees decent work.

  2. The size of vessels and crew, the duration of fishing trips, and the area of fishing operations, vary across the world. Considering this diversity, it is commendable that the Committee on the Fishing Sector could propose for adoption, a Convention and a Recommendation on work in the fishing sector that cover fishers on board both small- and large-scale fishing vessels with rigour and flexibility. The proposed Convention provides a common framework to address issues related to minimum requirements for work on board fishing vessels, and living and working conditions, as well as the social security of fishers.

  3. The marine fishing industry—in particular, the sub-sectors characterized by larger fishing vessels undertaking longer fishing trips—would benefit from the provisions of the proposed Convention after the adoption, ratification and development of national legislation toward its implementation. Developing countries can greatly benefit from the provisions of the Convention, not only in terms of their national fishing industries, but also as fishing-labour exporting nations. Implemented well, the Convention can put an end to the inhuman treatment of fishworkers, particularly of migrant fishers on board distant-water fishing vessels.

  4. ICSF strongly urges the Conference to adopt the Convention. This time, the additional flexibility offered by the proposed Convention should ensure wider support, and enable its ratification on adoption even in countries with insufficiently developed infrastructure or institutions. ICSF hopes, however, that provisions for a ‘progressive implementation approach’ do not lead to an undue delay in extending the benefits of the Convention to all fishers who fall within its scope. ICSF requests governments to consider speedier ratification of this Convention on adoption, and also to consider extending its relevant provisions, where applicable, to shore-based fishers, especially women, in consultation with social partners. This would be consistent with the ECOSOC Ministerial Declaration in July 2006 on ‘Creating an environment at the national and international levels conducive to …decent work for all….’

  5. ICSF believes that the proposed Work in Fishing Convention, 2007, can complement the legal instruments for sustainable and responsible fisheries, namely, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement and the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, by addressing the social dimension of sustainable development of fishers and fishing communities.

  6. ICSF has been disseminating the content of, and mustering support for, the proposed fishing convention since 2003, and it has, in this regard, organized several meetings in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe mainly for small-scale fishers, who, as a result, have evinced a greater interest in the proposed convention. Once the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007, is adopted, ICSF looks forward to collaborating with the International Labour Office, governments, trade unions and NGOs, for its dissemination, ratification and implementation.

  7. Last but not least, ICSF would also like to take this opportunity to urge ILO to look into the conditions of work in the burgeoning aquaculture industry that employs an estimated 10 million people, and to develop, if deemed necessary, an instrument to guarantee them decent work. Aquaculture today accounts for one-third of world fish production. Over the past quinquennium, while marine capture fishery production has been stagnating, aquaculture fish production has been registering impressive growth. It would be only appropriate that such growth is not achieved at the cost of decent work.

the Fish Site Editor

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