World Fisheries Day: Vatican Calls for Roadmap to Curb Abuses

file photo
file photo

By The Maritime Executive 11-21-2018 05:02:59

The Vatican has called for the creation of a roadmap to ensure widespread ratification and implementation of the international treaties to tackle trafficking and forced labor in the fisheries sector.

In a message during a World Fisheries Day, November 21, panel discussion today in Rome, the Vatican’s Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, urged all parties to put aside differences and work together to stop human trafficking and forced labor at sea.

“This cooperation should be pursued at global, regional, national and local levels and should ensure the involvement of civil society, industry and retailers, NGOs, trade unions and the Church,” he said. “We can improve working conditions and safety and fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IIU) fishing and create a socially, environmentally and commercially sustainable fisheries sector.”

According the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2016 data, around 59.6 million people were engaged in fisheries and aquaculture work, supplying about 171 million tons of fish to the global market and generating a first-sale value of production estimated at $320 billion.

However, several challenges remain in the treatment of those employed in fisheries, including physical and verbal abuses, exploitation of fishermen, cases of forced labor, human trafficking and disappearance at sea. Often there are direct links between the abuses and the use of flags of convenience, IUU fishing and transnational crime, said Turkson.

He said the fishing industry is committed to solving problems of product certification, as consumers call on retailers to be more responsible in their business and to exercise due diligence throughout their whole supply chain. 

However, going by media reports and hearing the harrowing stories recounted by the chaplains and volunteers of global seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea around the world, it seems that “all these efforts are not enough because the number of governments that have ratified international instruments is still very low and in some small areas, the fishing industry is still suffers from the ruthlessness of profit-seeking policy makers,” Turkson said.

On the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, Turkson reaffirmed the Vatican’s support for Article 4 of the Declaration and Article 23: “These fundamental labor rights are human rights, and they must be fishers’ rights.”