Decent Work in Fishing

8th ASEAN Labour Inspection Conference

The Eighth ASEAN Labour Inspection Conference on the theme “Securing Decent Work in the Fisheries Sector through Labour Inspection in ASEAN” was held from 18-19 December 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.

News | 15 January 2020
The meeting noted the importance of the fishing industry in many ASEAN economies and to thousands of national and migrant workers who depend on the industry for their livelihood. Tripartite delegates recognized that the sustainability of the fishing industry depended not only on economic and environmental factors, but also on whether the industry could ensure decent work for its fishers.

Fishing is one of the most hazardous occupations. All fishers are potentially vulnerable to decent work deficits including unacceptable working and living conditions on fishing vessels, long working hours, low income, isolation at sea and abusive recruitment.

The Conference noted that while ASEAN inspectorates had taken many good initiatives in recent years, challenges remained to effective labour inspection in the sector. In some cases, the legal framework and mandate of labour inspectorates were absent, unclear, not well suited to the peculiarities of work in fishing or contested by other government agencies. Adapting primarily land-based inspection to the maritime context also presented practical challenges such as limited port access, conflicting or inadequate enforcement procedures, limits on port state inspections, or the inability to conduct inspections at sea. Critically, strong coordination among labour inspectors and other relevant government authorities in the sector were often insufficient.

Delegates underlined that realizing decent work in the fisheries sector required joint efforts by governments, employers, workers and other stakeholders, and that labour inspectorates had a main role. The Conference recommended 11 priority actions to enhance compliance with labour laws and strengthen inspection in the fishing sector. This included prioritizing the ratification of the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No.188), strengthening labour inspection strategic action as well as improving coordination with other regulators and employer and worker organizations in the sector.

See more about ILO's activities in the fisheries sector