International Labour Standards on Fishers


Fishing is one of the world's earliest industries and today provides a livelihood for millions of families around the world. Approximately 36 million people are engaged in capture fishing and aquaculture worldwide. Of these, an estimated 27 million work in capture fishing alone. Like seafarers, fishers are exposed to significant hazards, including rough weather at sea, crushing waves, powerful and dangerous machinery, hooks and shark bites. An estimated 24,000 persons working in the fish industry die from work-related causes every year. Fishing is also a very diverse industry, ranging from highly organized commercial deep-sea fishing operations to the more common small-scale and artisan fishing. The majority of fishers still belong to the informal sector. An estimated 45% of the total world catch is taken by small-scale fishers. The wage payment system is normally based on a share in the value of the catch. Many fishers are employed in fishing only on a part-time and temporary basis and earn the rest of their income through additional occupations, agricultural or other. To respond to the specific needs of workers engaged in fishing, the ILO has developed standards specifically aimed at providing protection for the men and women who work in this sector. (Note 1) In view of the importance of the fishing industry and the developments that have taken place since the adoption of fishing standards in 1959 and 1966 respectively, the ILO has adopted at its 96th annual Conference in June 2007 a new comprehensive standard on conditions of work in the fishing sector: the Work in Fishing Convention (No. 188) and Recommendation (No. 199), 2007.

Selected relevant ILO instruments

Note 1 - ILO: Conditions of work in the fishing sector, Report V(I), International Labour Conference, 92nd Session, Geneva, 2004.