The ETF Fisheries Section fights to improve working conditions, safety and training for women and men who working as fishers. This includes, for example, promoting wider ratification and enforcement of the ILO Work in Fishing Convention (C188) by European countries.
Fisheries is one of the most dangerous sectors: therefore, the focus of the ETF and its members is on improving working conditions on board. Over the last years, many cases of abuses and non-respect of human and labour rights on board fishing vessels in EU waters have been reported, mostly involving migrant workers. Our action in this respect is aimed at changing the regulatory framework, when needed, and also at claiming enforcement of existing rules.
Since the fisheries sector is regulated at European level, EU fisheries policy is at the heart of our work. The latest version of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) entered into force in 2014. It offers an unbalanced strategy, which mainly focuses on environmental sustainability and pays very little attention to the social problems in the sector and the human consequences of the measures proposed.
We are therefore working to ensure that the upcoming revision of the CFP (expected for 2020) takes account of the human factor. Our main aim is to embed a strong social conditionality principle in the new CFP, which would mean that EU support and funding would only be available for employers who respect social standards in their treatment of workers. We also advocate for the mainstreaming of social issues in the way Europe organises the fisheries market, including in trade arrangements with non-EU countries.
Revamping the ETF’s policy on the international dimension of EU fisheries is another priority. This includes developing an agreement within the Social Dialogue Committee on working conditions for non-EU nationals on EU-owned fishing vessels. The Fisheries Section is also active in many of the Advisory Councils that advise the European Commission on the implementation of the CFP. The social consequences of Brexit for fisheries workers are another priority issue for the ETF.
In addition, the Fisheries Section focuses on identifying possible management tools to improve the social, economic and environmental sustainability of fishing activities in the Mediterranean Sea. The fight against abuses in the Irish fishing sector also remains a high priority.