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European Commission to Improve Working Conditions in the Fishing Sector

Lucy Towers
03 May 2016, at 1:00am

EU - The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Directive which aims at improving the working conditions for workers in the fishing sector.

Following an agreement by social partners on working conditions in the fishing sector, the European Commission is translating the agreement into a legal proposal for a Directive.

In 2013, the EU social partners in the fishing sector reached an agreement, which proposed to align EU law with the "Work in Fishing" Convention 2007 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Once adopted by the Council, this directive will implement the social partner agreement, which provides for a higher level of protection of EU fishermen.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "Protecting our workers and their well-being is a priority for the Juncker Commission. More than 100,000 people in the EU work in the fisheries industry, often under difficult circumstances at sea. The accident and injury rate can be 15 times higher compared to other sectors. Today's proposal will help to reduce the risks that fishermen face at work. The proposal is based on an agreement of the European sectoral social partners and an excellent example of their ability to work together to improve working conditions."

Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Karmenu Vella, stated: "The EU is leading the global fight against illegal fishing activities. IUU activity hurts the health and safety of fishermen. Today's proposal will improve the working conditions of fishermen at sea, reduce the incentive for illegal fishing and ensure a healthy and sustainable fishing industry that continues to attract skilled and qualified workers."

The proposed Directive will improve the living and working conditions of fishermen. It includes minimum requirements for:

  • Work on board (e.g. minimum age, medical certificate, information in the employment contract)
  • Conditions of service (working time limits, right of repatriation)
  • Accommodation and food
  • Occupational safety and health protection, including medical treatment on board and ashore

Furthermore, the implementation of the social partner agreement in EU legislation is expected to set an example for third countries to ratify the 2007 ILO Working in Fishing Convention. This is particularly relevant in the context of the fight against illegal fishing.