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Guidance on addressing child labour in fisheries and aquaculture

Child labour is a major concern in many parts of the world and it is estimated that there are some 215  million child labourers worldwide. Aggregate data indicate that about 60 per cent of child labourers  – that is over 129 million children – work in agriculture, including fisheries and aquaculture. While  there are limited disaggregated data on child labour specifically related to fisheries and aquaculture,  case-specific evidence points to significant numbers. Children engage in a wide va riety of activities  in capture fishing, aquaculture and all associated operations (processing, marketing and other postharvest  activities), as well as in upstream industries including net making and boatbuilding. Children  also perform household chores in their fishing and fish farming families and communities. When child  labour is used as cheap labour to cut fishing costs, not only is harmful to the children, it may also have  a negative effect on the sustainability of the fishery activ ity. Child labour appears to be particularly  widespread in the small- and medium-scale sectors of the informal economy where decent work is  poorly organised or absent.  Although there is a widely ratified international legal framework to address child labour, – comprising  ILO Conventions and other agreements, laws are effective only if they are applied and enforced, with  incentives to ensure compliance. Addressing child labour is rarely high on the national agenda of  social dialogue,  legislation review and institution building. Its elimination is difficult because it is part  of production systems, is nested in the context of poverty and relates closely to social injustices.  Communities and institutions are often not fully aware of the negative individual and collective social  and economic consequences of child labour. Practical and realistic pathways for improving the current  situation and community engagement and buy-in are essential for successful results.  More information on child labour is needed to raise awareness at all levels. A critical first step towards  eliminating child labour, in particular its worst forms, is to understand what constitutes hazardous  work and what tasks and occupations are acceptable for children above the minimum legal age for  employment. Not all activities performed by children are child labour. Convention on Minimum Age,  1973 (No 138), and Convention on the Worst Forms if Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182), define child   labour on the basis of a child’s age, the hours and conditions of work, activities performed and hazards  involved. Child labour is work that interferes with compulsory schooling and damages health and  personal development.  Concerted efforts are needed to effectively address child labour with multistakeholder participation and  involving governments, development partners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), employers’  and workers’ associations and other socioprofessional organization s, the private sector and communities  (including children and youth). By applying holistic, participatory, integrated and feasible approaches,  a better life for millions of children can be created.