UN FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) met in Rome on July 11-15, 2016. The IUF/ITF international trade union delegation intervened in the debate on the industry’s sustainability, stressing the need for swift enforcement of the ILO Convention C 188 on work in fishing and the need to develop wider international labour and environmental standards for the entire global seafood value chain. In the course of the session on illegal and unreported fishing, representatives of ITF and IUF again raised the question of the link between this illegal activity and the rights of workers both on board the vessels and at fish farms and processing factories.
“The social and working conditions of fishworkers have officially become part of the FAO’s future programme, while important steps have also been taken in relation to illegal (IUU) fishing and its social and economic impact. In our view this marks an important turning point in the FAO’s activities”, said the UILA National Secretary Fabrizio De Pascale, a member of the union delegation to the meeting.
The report agreed by the Committee at the end of the meeting specifically recognizes the importance of including the subject of social and working conditions in the remit of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade. As regards illegal fishing, the report notes that, in the view of many States, such activities are associated with other more serious crimes against human beings and for this reason FAO and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) should coordinate their activities. COFI also recommended that the International Labour Organization (ILO) should be directly involved in Joint FAO/IMO Working Group on illegal fishing.