New Era for Fishermen Begins

Published Nov 15, 2017 6:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has described the coming into force of the ILO Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 on November 16 as having the potential to open up a new era for millions of fishermen worldwide. 

The ITF has been an active supporter of the new convention, and Johnny Hansen, chair of the ITF fisheries section, said: “Fishers work in one of the most dangerous and often unpoliced professions in the world. Far too many of them are scandalously and criminally exploited. This should be a turning point in their lives.”

ITF hopes the convention will help to improve conditions across the industry – including by tackling what it says are grotesque and disgusting examples of overwork, non-payment of wages, forced labor and human trafficking. “For the sake of justice, human lives and a better industry, we call on states to ratify and implement this landmark resolution, and ask the ILO to actively promote it worldwide,” said Hansen.

The convention aims to ensure that fishermen:

• Have improved occupational safety and health and medical care at sea, and that sick or injured fishers receive care ashore
• Receive sufficient rest for their health and safety
• Have the protection of a written work agreement
• Have the same social security protection as other workers

It also aims to ensure that fishing vessels are constructed and maintained so that workers have decent living conditions on board.

Around 40 million men and women work in fisheries worldwide. They work on board a global fleet of about 4.6 million vessels, the majority of which are less than 12 meters (39 feet) in length, with around 64 000 large vessels of over 24 meters (79 feet) in operation.

So far, the convention has been ratified by Angola, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Congo, Estonia, France, Lithuania, Morocco, Norway and South Africa.