Lusaka : The just ended 96th session of the International Labour Organization (ILO) has adopted new standards designed to improve the conditions of more than 30 million men and women working in the fisheries sector worldwide.
The new standards, contained in a convention, to be known as â€œThe Work in Fishing Convention, 2007″, will come into effect when it is ratified by 10 of the ILOâ€™s 180 member states.
The standards contain provisions designed to ensure that workers in the fishing sector have improved occupational safety and health and medical care at sea, and that sick or injured fishers receive care ashore.
The provisions also state that workers in the sector should receive sufficient rest for their health and safety, the protection of a work agreement and the same social security protection as other workers.
In a statement receive by ZANIS here Sunday, the ILO stated that many people who make their living in the fishing sector are paid, in whole or part, based on the share of the catch.
The ILO said in its report on conditions of work in the fishing sector, that fishing is also one of the most hazardous occupations, which mainly arise from the power of the sea, the nature of catching and processing fish.
â€œFishing, whether industrial or small-scale, is facing the forces of globalization; fish that was once locally consumed is now often being processed and shipped to restaurants and consumers half-way around the world,â€? the report stated.
The ILO said these challenges made it important for fishers, fishing vessel owners, related industries and consumers to ensure that the fishing sector is subject to labour legislation that will protect fishers and help make this essential profession attractive and sustainable.
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia stated that the extension of social protection and decent work to fishers is an important part of the ILOâ€™s commitment to social justice.
â€œIn the sector, many people face extraordinary and unpredictable hazards, often working long hours in harsh conditions to bring food to our markets. This new instrument will help protect them against exploitation,â€? he said.
The other provisions are aimed at ensuring that fishing vessels are constructed and maintained so that workers in the sector have living conditions on board that reflect the long periods they often spend at sea.
It also puts in place a mechanism to ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, its provisions by states and provides that large fishing vessels on extended voyages may be subject to inspections in foreign ports to ensure that the fishers on board do not work under conditions that are hazardous to their safety and health.
This latter provision aims to help remove from the seas vessels with unacceptable working and living conditions, which operate to the detriment of responsible operators.