A new report from Human Rights at Sea highlights issues related to crew recruited from the Philippines to work in the fishing industry.

By Stop Illegal Fishing:5th Sep, 2018: Human Trafficking

Investigators spent time in the Philippines interviewing a number of government and non-government, civil society and commercial stakeholders to provide an overview of the manning agents and the regulatory environment in which they operate.

David Hammond, Founder and Trustee of Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) commented, “The charity aims to raise the profile of this long-standing route for use of crew in the fishing industry in order to ensure that greater levels of transparency and welfare support are made available to those working at sea.”

The report states, “It is clear from our engagement to date with in-country manning agents that there is little awareness of, or appreciation for the role that they play in their clients’ supply chain considerations even if that is on the other side of the globe. This concept of responsibility in other jurisdictions is alien to some. Manning agents do not understand that obligations with respect to welfare and human rights are shared and that accountability does not stop when a crew-member leaves the agent’s premises. For the welfare system to work at an international level, this level of awareness and appreciation needs to change, for both moral and legal compliance purposes. In many cases, the review and scrutiny of manning agents has been a superficial ‘rubber-stamping’ exercise with third-party due diligence audits offering little or no route to effective remedy when abuses are highlighted.”

Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing, commented, “This case study provides a useful insight into the way fishing vessels are crewed by workers from developing countries. Our investigations have revealed the prevalence of poor working and living conditions on board fishing vessels in the Western Indian Ocean. More needs to be done to protect the rights of these crew, and to ensure legitimacy and transparency in the fish supply chain.”

The HRAS report notes that measures included in the ILO Work in Fishing Convention (No.188), which came into effect in 2017, will lead to improved recruitment and employment practices for fishers, although take-up to date is limited to ten countries. The UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 is also expected to create change for workers recruited to work in the UK fishing industry, as supply chain transparency is increased, and commercial imperative to demonstrate social responsibility is heightened.

The report recommends, “owners and operators should at the very least conduct credible and accountable due diligence on their manning supply chain, which goes to the heart of the day-to-day operations of their vessels.”

The report can be downloaded here.

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