Fishing Safety


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations (UN) system’s regulatory agency for the maritime sector. Its global mandate is “safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans”. IMO pursues that mandate by adopting international maritime rules and standards that are then implemented and enforced by Governments in the exercise of flag, port and coastal State jurisdiction. The IMO, located in London (United Kingdom), provides the secretariat for two important international agreements on fishing safety, being the Cape Town Agreement (CTA) (2012) (not yet in force) and the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F) (1995).

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that labour peace is essential to prosperity. The ILO helps advance the creation of decent work and the economic and working conditions that give working people and business people a stake in lasting peace, prosperity and progress. Its tripartite structure provides a unique platform for promoting decent work for all women and men. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. In 2007, it adopted the Work in Fishing Convention (No. 188) and the accompanying Recommendation No. 199. The objective of Convention No. 188 is "is to ensure that fishers have decent conditions of work on board fishing vessels with regard to minimum requirements for work on board; conditions of service; accommodation and food; occupational safety and health protection; medical care and social security". The ILO works closely with FAO and IMO to improve safety and health in the fishing sector. The Secretariat of the ILO is the International Labour Office, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with field offices worldwide.

The Bay of Bengal Programme Inter-Governmental Organisation (BOBP-IGO) was formally established in 2003. The organization aims to promote, facilitate and secure the long-term development and utilization of marine fisheries resources of the Bay of Bengal based on responsible fishing practices and environmentally sound management programs. The four member states of this regional fishery body are Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and The Maldives. The secretariat of the BOBP-IGO is located in Chennai, India. Among its objectives the organization has the enhancement of skills through training and education, including skills on fishers’ safety at sea. BOBP-IGO is working closely with FAO in the development and dissemination of capacity building materials on safety at sea for small-scale fishers.

The Pacific Community (SPC) is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, proudly supporting development since 1947. The organization is headquartered in New Caledonia, and has offices in Fiji, Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia. FAO and SPC have been working in partnership to improve the safety of small-scale fishers in the Pacific island countries for many decades.

The Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) was established as an inter-governmental body in 1967. The mission of SEAFDEC is “To promote and facilitate concerted actions among the Member Countries to ensure the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in Southeast Asia.” SEAFDEC comprises 11 member countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Its Secretariat is located in Bangkok, Thailand. SEAFDEC has been partnering with FAO on improving working and living conditions and safety of fishing vessels in the Southeast Asian region, with a specific focus on small-scale fishing vessels.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the United States of America has a Commercial Fishing Research and Design Program, which aims inter alia to increase fishing safety. NIOSH research on this subject is focused on reducing the number of accidents and fatalities in fisheries and improving commercial fishing vessel safety. NIOSH and FAO collaborate in fishing safety research and in the organization of the International Fishing Industry Safety and Health Conferences (IFISH).

The FISH Safety Foundation (FSF) is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to improving health & safety outcomes in the global fishing sector. FSF is based in New Zealand and has been providing practical educational resources, access to information and promoting a positive safety culture in the global fishing industry since 1999. FSF and FAO have been working together to build capacity among small-scale fishers on fishing safety, training of trainers on safety at sea in the fisheries sector, and to support the establishment of accident and fatality reporting systems in fisheries.

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