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Fish Workers Welfare

Campaigns and Action

Fish workers welfare campaigns and Action programmes are meant to draw attention to processes that have an adverse impact on the access of fishworkers to resources, and to suggest alternatives that help defend their right to life and livelihood. Towards this end, ICSF organizes seminars, workshops and conferences, on the one hand, and lobbies international processes, on the other.

The significant international conferences organized by ICSF include the

International Symposium on Marine Environment and the Future of Fishworkers in Lisbon in 1989;
Global Fisheries Trends and the Future of Fishworkers in Bangkok in 1990;
the Struggles of Fishworkers: New Concerns for Support, in Cebu in 1994;
the Workshop on Gender Perspectives in Fisheries in Senegal in 1996,
South Asian Workshop on Fisheries and Coastal Area Management in Chennai in 1996; and
Forging Unity: Coastal Communities and the Indian Ocean’s Future in Chennai in 2001.

These conferences were important forums for the artisanal and small-scale fishworkers to highlight their concerns and to influence the broader agenda of ICSF.

Several workshops and seminars are held to influence decision-making processes to better integrate fisheries interests into coastal area management, to emphasize the importance of addressing the gender dimension and to disseminate the content of important international instruments relevant to the fisheries sector, like FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. These processes facilitate an interface between fishworker organizations, policymakers and NGOs.

At the international level, ICSF has influenced decisionmaking at important conferences like the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and FAO’s Technical Consultation on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. It has also facilitated the participation of fishworker organizations in these processes.

Through the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements (CFFA), ICSF actively makes an effort to influence the fisheries access agreements between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Focusing on the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, ICSF campaigns for better conditions of work on board distant-water fishing vessels. Along with other European NGOs, ICSF has influenced the recruitment policy of immigrant workers into the Taiwanese distant-water fisheries.

ICSF also lobbies the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Workers’ Group that represents the interests of the industrial fishermen for the recognition of artisanal and small-scale fishworkers hitherto considered as belonging to the informal sector and hence not recognized as workers eligible for social security benefits.

ICSF also associates with the review of the Ocean’s Chapter of Agenda 21, the Committee on Food Security and the Committee on Fisheries of FAO. It is further studying the impact on fisheries of trade regimes under the Uruguay Round. Also being monitored are the implications of private ecolabelling initiatives for fishworkers in the South.

Reference: (ICSF)

Monitoring and Research

Monitoring and Research programmes enable ICSF to document and communicate important aspects of artisanal and small-scale fisheries. Studies under these programmes generate information useful for lobbying, for example, international conferences and multilateral bodies.

Most of these studies, on topics like the Lomé Agreement, fisheries resource management, women in fisheries, fishing legislation, credit and insurance systems, fish diseases, conditions of work on distant-water fishing vessels and on coastal area management, have been published by ICSF.

Among the more significant studies are:

The State of World Fisheries from a Fishworker Perspective :
This programme was conceived, inter alia, to generate reliable information about fishworkers and their communities in different parts of the world, in light of the fact that while information about fisheries resources is readily available, little is known about workers who harvest these resources for their life and livelihood.

Crisis in World Fisheries: Response of Fishworker Movements:
When fisheries in several regions of the world are seen to be in crisis, it is particularly relevant to study the response of artisanal and small-scale fishworker organizations and their politics of engagement for the sustainability of resource use in fisheries. This programme was intended to document these processes by facilitating opportunities for dialogue between those part of, or supporting, fishworker movements in India, Canada and Senegal.

The Impact of Trade on Fishing Communities: A draft paper, Shell Out: The Shrimp-Turtle Dispute at WTO:

Conserving Sea Turtles and Protecting Livelihoods, was prepared to study the implications of multilateral environmental and trade agreements for small-scale fisheries. The study shows how artisanal fishing communities inadvertently become the victims of international trade disputes over fishing methods.

Social Security of Fishworkers and the Role of Subsidies:
The aim was to gain information on the possible forms of social security that could be provided in the artisanal sector and how such systems operated in other countries.

In 2000, the report titled Social Security for Fishworkers:
A Study of Welfare and Development Assistance Programmes in the Marine Fishery Sector of Kerala State, India, put together by John Kurien and Antonyto Paul of the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, was published in English as a SAMUDRA monograph. The study analyzes the growth and changing composition of social security provisions in the fisheries sector of Kerala for the period 1964-1998.

Women in Fisheries (WIF) Programme:
Supporting the role of women in fisheries and enhancing their roles in decision-making processes at various levels has been a focus area for ICSF since its inception. The WIF programme has been instrumental in highlighting and valorizing, through workshops, country programmes, publications and studies, the vital role of women in fisheries and fishing communities in the South.
Apart from WIF country programmes in Ghana and Brazil and, to a very limited extent, in Senegal and India, the WIF Programme organized a Workshop on Gender and Coastal Fishing Communities in Latin America in June 2000 in Brazil, a Workshop on Gender, Globalization and Fisheries, in Canada and the Asian Fisherfolk Conference in January 2002 in Thailand.

The Problematic of the Artisanal Fishing Zone:

The concept of the ‘artisanal fishing zone’ has been a significant management tool recognized by fishworker organizations right from the 1984 Rome Conference. The idea was also formally proposed to the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries by ICSF and was eventually incorporated into the Code, with some amendments proposed by member countries. It was recognized that this concept has to be seen in the light of traditional migration patterns of fishermen as well as the changing nature of the artisanal sector, marked by technological changes that increased mobility. While artisanal fishers of some countries may find the artisanal zone a highly effective management tool, artisanal fishers of other countries, who have developed the capacity to fish in more distant waters, may find this concept unduly restrictive.

The following are the programme's objectives:

to discuss the practical implications for artisanal fishing communities, of Article 6 Para 18 of the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, on preferential access to artisanal and small-scale fishworkers;
to examine the history and status of exclusive artisanal fishing zones; and
to discuss the implications of adopting the artisanal fishing zone and other related management measures for conservation and better allocation of fisheries resources.

Reference: (ICSF)

 

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