Southeast Asian Forum for Fishers to enhance efforts to end human trafficking and forced labour in fisheries

The SEA Forum for Fishers (the Southeast Asian Forum to End Trafficking in Persons and Forced Labour of Fishers) agreed on recommendations calling for flag States to protect fishers and migrant fishers on vessels flying their flag, particularly on high seas.

News | Jakarta, Indonesia | 30 September 2019
The SEA Forum for Fishers have coordinated actions to end trafficking in persons and forced labour in fisheries.
The SEA Forum for Fishers (the Southeast Asian Forum to End Trafficking in Persons and Forced Labour of Fishers), with Indonesia as the Chair of the Steering Committee, agreed on recommendations calling for flag States to protect fishers and migrant fishers on vessels flying their flag, particularly on high seas. The Forum called for flag States to take concrete steps towards ratification of ILO Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (No. 188) in Southeast Asia as well as in other major flag States employing fishers from Southeast Asian countries. The Forum also called for market States to enforce laws to end the sourcing, buying and importing of fish and seafood products benefiting from trafficking in persons and forced labour.

The SEA Forum for Fishers is comprised of government, employer, worker and civil society representatives from seven Southeast Asian countries have coordinated actions to end trafficking in persons and forced labour in fisheries. These recommendations are the outcomes of the Inaugural Plenary Meeting of SEA Forum for Fishers on 26-27 September in Bali, Indonesia, convened by ILO in partnership with the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.

The interactive session on strengthening the collaborations to eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery in fisheries.

Work in fishing vessels is one of the most dangerous jobs that place the fishers in a vulnerable position to human trafficking and forced labour at sea. Realizing that these crimes are cross-border in nature, Indonesia welcome Southeast Asian stakeholders to tackle these issues together."

Basilio Dias Araujo, Assistant Deputy for Security and Resilience at the Deputy for Maritime Sovereignty Coordination
This meeting is the latest in a series for the Forum, which are held to continuous coordinate policy, action and positions from Southeast Asian countries to protect fishers and workers in the fish and seafood industry, including migrant fishers.

The five working groups of the Forum discussed steps to enhance regional data sharing and vessel monitoring to identify human trafficking, regional protocol for port state control to inspect working and living conditions, harmonizing regional labour standards in the fishing and seafood industry, fair recruitment, and increasing access to remedy for survivors.

The conference was opened by Basilio Dias Araujo, Assistant Deputy for Security and Resilience at the Deputy for Maritime Sovereignty Coordination and Michiko Miyamoto, ILO Country Director for Indonesia and Timor Leste. Vannak Anan Prum, a Cambodian artist and author of the graphic memoir “The Dead Eye and The Deep Blue Sea” also shared his story of surviving modern slavery at sea.

In his opening remarks, Basilio highlighted that “Work in fishing vessels is one of the most dangerous jobs that place the fishers in a vulnerable position to human trafficking and forced labour at sea. Realizing that these crimes are cross-border in nature, Indonesia welcome Southeast Asian stakeholders to tackle these issues together.” He also stressed that all countries must immediately ratified the ILO C-188 convention.

Meanwhile Michiko urged the conference to find ways to ensure decent work for all fishers, including through the promotion of the Convention No. 188, and tools that have been developed by ILO for effective implementation of international labour standards and enforcement of labour protection for fishers.

The delegations from Myanmar
The Conference was attended by over 100 participants from Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Viet Nam. The Conference was supported by the ILO through its SEA Fisheries Project, funded by the US government and aimed at combating human trafficking in the fisheries and seafood sectors by strengthening coordination and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the existing national and regional level anti-trafficking efforts in Southeast Asia.