World Fisheries Day 2016: FAO and the Holy See together in defense of human rights in the fisheries sector


On the occasion of World Fisheries Day, 21 November 2016, FAO and the Holy See are holding a joint event to discuss labour conditions within the fisheries sector.

The event theme will be "Human trafficking and forced labour within the fishing sector and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU). The violations of human rights of fishermen" and aims to raise awareness on the linkages between labour exploitation, IUU fishing and human rights of fish workers. Participants will be welcomed by the FAO Director General José Graziano Da Silva, who will provide the opening remarks, along with H.E. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness The Pope in Vatican City, Holy See. The discussion will be moderated by Mr. Árni M. Mathiesen, Assistant Director General, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, who will open the discussion to representatives from the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the Vatican City, Seafarers Rights International and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The event will be relevant to all those interested in learning from a variety of perspectives on how to tackle human rights abuses and labour exploitation in the seafood sector.

Why turn the attention to decent work on World Fisheries Day?
It is widely known that the fisheries sector is a direct source of food and nutrition security. Indeed, fish and fishery products provide 20 percent of protein intake to more than 3 billion people. The sector is also a vital source of livelihood, with FAO estimating that for 2014, about 200 million people were employed along the fishery value chain, from harvesting to distribution. Of this total, some 56 million people were engaged directly in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture. Indirectly, it is estimated that roughly 880 million people are employed in some relation to fisheries and aquaculture. This economic sector has long been thought of as working in one of the most dangerous environments as long days of grueling work in at times unsafe conditions can lead to a range of human rights violations. With global fish consumption increasingly on the rise, the sector will continue to grow, and it is vital to protect the human rights of individuals as well as the economic welfare of communities.

How are human rights violated in the fisheries and aquaculture sector?
IUU fishing and labour exploitation affect human rights in a variety of ways, creating different types of abuses. These include, but are not limited to, human trafficking, slavery, child labour, sexual assault, exploitation of migrant workers, health conditions, as well as accidents and injuries on board. These gross violations of decent work are often linked to political, social and cultural issues, making it vital to discuss this topic in conjunction with social responsibilities and the promotion of international labour standards.

Event programme 
Publication: Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication

Share this page