Regional Meeting on Work in Fishing: Increased Knowledge Base and Sharing Good Practices for the Protection of Migrant Workers

This two-day regional tripartite meeting co-hosted by the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration of the Government of Indonesia and the ILO will present the international standards on work in fishing, share national policy and legislative framework among ASEAN Member States and States employing ASEAN workers, and share experiences on the protection of migrant workers in this sector in the region and around the world. The meeting will increase knowledge base and share data and research on the fishing sector and will consider recommendations for ASEAN regional partnerships and bilateral cooperation.

The issue of work in fishing brings together several countries in the ASEAN region, for example, Cambodian and Myanmar migrant workers work on Thai vessels fishing in Malaysian and Indonesian waters. Countries outside the ASEAN region are also important partners, for example, Vietnamese workers work on vessels registered in the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (China), and Bangladeshi workers will soon be allowed to work in the Thai fishing sector. Migrant fishers are particularly vulnerable to abuse, even forced labour, for a number of reasons: the nature of the work in fishing means that working hours and periods away from home are long, living and work conditions are tough and there are a number of hazards involved. Fatigue, linked to long hours, has been identified as a serious problem. The rate of accidents and fatalities can be quite high.

The above and other factors call for special considerations for the labour protection of fishers. However, in many countries fishers seem to fall, at least in part, through gaps in the system of laws, regulations and measures that protect other workers which may create a “decent work” deficit.

ILO Work in Fishing Convention (No. 188) was adopted in 2007 with overwhelming support from governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations around the world. None of the ASEAN states have ratified ILO Convention No. 188 and closer regional cooperation is required in order to strengthen protection for workers.

With support from the ASEAN TRIANGLE project, a regional workshop will be held to present the international standards on work in fishing, share good practices in the region and around the world, and consider bilateral and multilateral action to enhance protection.