A new rule for the treatment of crews of fishing vessels operating in the Pacific will be produced at next year’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting in Fiji.
The proposal to have binding conservation and management measures for improving labor and crew welfare, and human rights at the Fiji meeting was unanimously passed by delegates of the 20th meeting of the WCPFC in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.
Improving labour standards and crew welfare were being pushed by the WWF Pacific led civil society organisations as well as the 17 members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.
WWF Pacific Programme Manager in Central and Western Pacific, Bubba Cook said it “was a very huge step and it’s very encouraging to hear the level of support from all the members around the table. So, we’re optimistic that we will see that that measure approved next December.”
“It was a bit of a bittersweet outcome because on one hand, they pushed the issue as far back in the agenda as possible and then they essentially only gave about 30 minutes to speak to it. When you look at it in the whole overall meeting, we spent the better part of three or four days, probably 70 percent of their time discussing, the size of the pie and how big a slice everyone gets, but when it came to the people who actually go out and harvest those slices of the pie, we only gave them a short trip, which was a half hour at best.”
Research by the Pew Charitable Trusts last year suggests, more than 100,000 fishing-related deaths occur each year—three to four times previous estimates.