Ensuring fishers’ safety while sustainably managing the world’s aquatic resources

FAO, ILO and the Vatican mark World Fisheries Day 2019

21 November 2019, Rome - The fisheries sector is making an increasingly important contribution to food security and livelihoods, however more needs to be done to improve working conditions which remain dangerous for many people, FAO Deputy Director-General for Climate and Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo, said today.

Semedo was speaking at a World Fisheries Day 2019 special event jointly organized by FAO, the Vatican and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Rome. The event was held on the closing day of the International Symposium on Fisheries Sustainability organized by FAO this week.

FAO has been working closely with governments, international partners and those working in the industry to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and ensure that fishers' rights are protected.

"Every hour four fishers die doing their job - not just men, women too," Semedo said.  "Human rights violations and unacceptable practices at different stages of the value chain are increasing in fisheries and aquaculture."

Monsignor Bruno Marie Duffé, Secretary of the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, also took part in the event which focused on promoting social responsibility in the fisheries value chain.

Duffé said Pope Francis had spoken of the need for a more integral approach to ecology in his encyclical, Laudato si, and the Holy See called for greater synergy between governments and maritime authorities to protect human rights and social responsibility in the fishing sector.

"It is necessary to maintain a particular vigilance for the most critical situations of vulnerability, crime and poverty," Duffé said.

Marine and inland fisheries are critical to food and nutrition. But some 33 percent of marine stocks are being fished at biologically unsustainable levels - triple the rate recorded 40 years ago. Demand is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2025 as the world's population rises. Globally, over one in ten people depend on fishing to make a living and feed their families

Semedo said FAO recognizes there are clear links between illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and safety concerns at sea.  She called for better and more coherent action in promoting sustainability and fishworkers' safety.

FAO has developed a number of international instruments designed to promote dialogue, policy processes and action leading to sustainable fisheries management in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.  

FAO is also working with the Holy See and the ILO on guidance documents to support social sustainability through the value chain from harvesting through production and processing.

Photo: ©FAO/Cristiano Minichiello
Fishing in Civitavecchia, Italy