EU-wide legislation adopted to improve working conditions in the fishing sector

On 19 December the Council of the EU formally adopted the EU Directive giving legal effect to an agreement negotiated by the European social partners to implement the ILO Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188).

Press release | 19 December 2016
BRUSSELS (ILO News) - The Council of the EU has adopted a proposal of the Commission which transposes a social partners’ agreement regarding the implementation of ILO Convention No. 188 into EU law.

Several years ago, the Association of National Organisations of Fishing Enterprises (Europêche), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), and the General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the EU (COGECA) reached an agreement which proposed to align EU law with key provisions of the ILO Work in Fishing Convention No.188. The EU institutions have now transformed this agreement into binding legislation for the 28 EU Member States. The EU Directive will apply to all fishers employed on fishing vessels flying the flag of an EU Member State, including when operating outside EU waters.

“I welcome today’s decision by the Council to transform the social partners’ agreement on the implementation of the ILO Work in Fishing Convention into an EU Directive. This represents an important contribution to the global efforts aimed at improving the working conditions of fishers - both men and women”, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.

The Work in Fishing Convention includes a comprehensive set of labour standards covering such issues as medical care at sea, written work agreements, mandatory crew lists, safety, health, food, accommodation, rest time and repatriation. Its provisions help prevent unacceptable forms of work in the sector, including forced labour, child labour and abuses in the recruitment and placement process. So far, ILO Convention No. 188 has been ratified by 10 countries, and both the Convention and the EU Directive will enter into force on 16 November 2017.

The fishing sector is estimated to directly employ about 38 million workers worldwide, while working on board fishing vessels has been recognized by the ILO as one of the most hazardous occupations.