Pacific Island Countries Identify Priority Actions to Tackle Poor Working Conditions in the Fishing Industry

Fishers from the Philippines on a purse seiner in Kiribati. Photo: Francisco Blaha

Participants at the regional workshop on labour standards on fishing vessels. Photo: IOM

Mr. Sriyana, Head of the Legal Bureau for Indonesia’s National Agency For Witness and Victim Protection (LPSK) shares Indonesia’s experience in identifying and protecting trafficked fishers. Photo: IOM

Anita Edgecombe, First Secretary Development - New Zealand High Commission, Kalaveti Vodo Ravu, Fiji Minister for Fisheries and Forests, and Dr. Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen, Director General of FFA. Photo:IOM

Honiara, Solomon Islands/Nadi, Fiji – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) held a joint workshop in Nadi, Fiji on 24-25 January focussing on labour standards on fishing vessels.

The workshop provided a platform for Pacific Island Countries to discuss and address poor working conditions, labour rights violations and human trafficking on fishing vessels in the Pacific, in order to contribute to making employment in the fishing industry safe, decent and worthwhile.

In a keynote address delivered at the workshop, Kalaveti Vodo Ravu, Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries and Forests, underlined the central importance of fishing to the Pacific.

“Fishing is essential to Pacific economies and communities, bringing millions of dollars in revenue and employing thousands of Pacific Islanders,” he said.

“Yet work conditions experienced by commercial fishers are known to be labour-intensive and dangerous, with the fatality rate for fishers typically several times higher than that for workers in other industries,” he added.

Dr. Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen, Director General of the FFA, also underlined the high priority that Pacific Island Countries place on addressing labour standards on fishing vessels.

“I call this the human side to our work,” she said. “It is never just about the money – it is always about our people”.

Fifty-five participants from 18 countries attended the two-day workshop. Representatives from government, industry, civil society and workers’ unions called for strengthened regulation and monitoring, improved opportunities for worker representation and voice, and the institution of robust cooperation mechanisms to allow for whole of government and whole of society collaboration.

Strengthened cooperation with labour source countries was also highlighted as a priority, considering the significant numbers of migrant workers employed on foreign-flagged fishing vessels.

The workshop was convened under the auspices of the New Zealand funded Labour Standards on Fishing Vessels, a regional inter-agency project led by IOM Solomon Islands and implemented in partnership with FFA, ILO and UNODC.

Discussions and recommendations advanced during the workshop will help to inform and guide future project activities.


For more information, please contact: Nathalie Hanley, Email:

SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 14 - Life below water
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SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals