United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

International Labour Organization (ILO)

ORGANISATION INTERNATIONALE DUTRA VAIL
13UREAU AUPRJ ES DES NATIONS UNIES
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ORGANIZACION INTERNACIONAL DEL TRABAJO
OFICINA PARA LAS NACIONES UNIDAS
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION
United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for
Sustainable Development
Partnership Dialogue 4: Making Fisheries Sustainable
7 June 2017
United Nations Headquarters, New York
Statement by: Ms. Alette van Leur, Director, Sectoral Policies Department
Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
The ocean is not only critical to the well being of the p lanet, it also is a workplace; an important
source of employment. Over 350 million people depend on the ocean for their livelihood, either
in tourism, shipping or fishing. 38 million workers around the world are engaged in capture
fishing.
Fishing as an occupation involves special challenges: the hazardous nature of the marine
environment, challenging conditions of work and the unique employment rel ationships stemming
from the tradition of paying fishers based on the share of the catch. Fishing vessels may spend
months, even years at sea, making it difficult to control living ,rnd working conditions of crews.
A lack of clear laws and effective implementation and enforcement of them can lead to
exploitation. A visible example is the persistent problem of forced labour and trafficking of
fishers. Yes, deep into the 21st century, there is still slavery at sea.
Violations of fundamental principles and rights at work are not only detrimental to the fishers
involved: they also damage the reputations of whole fisheries and undermine those competing
legally and fairly.
The fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and fisheries crime should go hand
in hand with the fight against exploitation of fishers. To do so, a legal framework for protecting
living and working conditions of fishers must be in place and enforced.
The ILO has international labour standards aimed to improve the conditions of fishers. These
include the ILO standards on fundamental principles and rights at work, the Protocol of 2014 to
the Forced Labour Convention (No. 29), and the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188).
ll1e ILO calls upon al I States to ratify and implement these instruments.
Coordinated action by all concerned and at all levels is critical. Ministries responsible for labour,
fisheries, maritime safety and other issues should work together with representatives of both
fishing vessel owners and fishers. It will stimulate innovative thinking, and build links between
SDG 14, SDG 8 and other SDGs, and thus truly lead to sustainable fisheries.
The ocean is a workplace and fishers like all other workers have the right to decent work.
Thank you.