Most experts agree that child labour in fishing is a widespread problem. But specifics are lacking - statistics on child labour are insufficient and additionally often lump fisheries, forestry, agriculture and livestock-raising together. Combined, child labourers in these four sectors are estimated to make up the largest portion — 60 percent — of the world's 215 million under age workers.
Child labourers engage in a wide range of activities in capture fisheries, aquaculture, post-harvest and processing. They work as unpaid family labour or under contract for an employer. In some cases children are victims of trafficking or forced labour.
However, work performed by children and child labour are not necessarily the same thing. While child labour impairs children’s developmental well-being or hinders their education and future livelihoods, and thus should be abolished, some participation in non-hazardous activities alongside adults is not harmful to children and may even be beneficial to them. A critical first step towards reducing child labour in fisheries and aquaculture is to understand what constitutes hazardous work.
To increase the knowledge base on child labour in this sector and to provide assistance for policy makers and government authorities to combat this difficult issue, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and ILO have developed a preliminary version of the good practice guide: “FAO-ILO good practice guide for addressing child labour in fisheries and aquaculture: policy and practice” in order to release a final version later in 2012.
All stakeholders, including international and national development organizations, government agencies, and social partners are encouraged to use the guidance document and to provide comments and inputs to improve it before it is published and disseminated more widely. Feedback and suggestions are hence solicited and should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 April 2012. The final version will be prepared and circulated in July 2012.