December 5, 2016
FAO, Holy See tackle human rights in fisheries sector
The UN's FAO and the Holy See held a joint event to discuss labour conditions within the fisheries sector on the occasion of World Fisheries Day last Nov. 21.
The event had for its theme "Human trafficking and forced labour within the fishing sector and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU). The violations of human rights of fishermen". It aimed to raise awareness on the linkages between labour exploitation, IUU fishing and human rights of fish workers.
It is widely known that the fisheries sector is a direct source of food and nutrition security. Fish and fishery products provide 20% of protein intake to more than 3 billion people. The sector is also a vital source of livelihood, with FAO estimating that for 2014, about 200 million people were employed along the fishery value chain, from harvesting to distribution. Of this total, some 56 million people were engaged directly in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture.
Indirectly, it is estimated that roughly 880 million people are employed in fisheries- and aquaculture-related industries. This economic sector has long been thought of as working in one of the most dangerous environments as long days of grueling work in at times unsafe conditions can lead to a range of human rights violations. With global fish consumption increasingly on the rise, the protection of the human rights of individuals as well as the economic welfare of communities is seen as vital.
Event participants were welcomed by FAO Director General José Graziano Da Silva, who delivered the opening remarks, along with H.E. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state of His Holiness Pope Francis in Vatican City. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Árni M. Mathiesen, assistant director general, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, who opened the discussion to representatives from the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the Vatican City, Seafarers Rights International, and the International Labour Organization.
The participants learned from a variety of perspectives on how to tackle human rights abuses and labour exploitation in the seafood sector.