Fair Fishing for Europe: Trade Unions launch debate on a more social EU fisheries policy

28 Jun 2018

What is sustainable fishing? Of course we need to protect fish stocks, but that’s not all. We must also consider the safety, wellbeing and working conditions of the people who bring fish from the sea to our plates. Truly sustainable fishing needs a socially sustainable supply chain. And in a sector that is so international, that means decent international rules to protect workers.

To address these questions, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) hosted a joint seminar about the future of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Workers, trade union activists, policymakers and experts joined the two-day event in Málaga, Spain.

Participants discussed various issues facing the European market in fish and fish products, which have a major impact on working conditions. For example, many fishermen are self-employed, which makes they struggle to organise effectively. The producer organisations that claim to represent their interests are often dominated by businesses and driven by profit.

The debates stressed the global impact of the European fish market: the EU is a major importer of fish products, and European fleets and investors are present far beyond European waters. Decent and well-implemented European rules could have a positive impact around the world, in a sector blighted by dangerous conditions and modern slavery. The EU’s weight as a huge market for fish products could make it a trend setter for high social standards in the fisheries sector.

The seminar is part of an EU-funded project where ETF and EFFAT will develop a trade union vision on the whole seafood supply chain: catching, processing, and aquaculture. The aim is a more social Common Fisheries Policy, so Europeans can be proud of the fish on our plates.