Thailand set to be first Asian country to ratify Work in Fishing Convention

Thailand is set become the first country in Asia to ratify the Work in Fishing Convention C188, which sets basic standards of decent work in the fishing industry, said the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).

Despite “obstructive tactics and attempts to derail the process by some sections of the fisheries industry”, Thailand’s national legislative assembly voted on Nov. 29 to ratify the convention. Without further opposition, it should be in place January next year.

EJF, which has been advising the Thai government on these issues since 2013, applauded the progress and urged Thailand to keep up the momentum for reform.

Thailand’s fishing fleet has, in recent decades, been the scene of slavery, physical abuse, human trafficking, and even murder of vulnerable migrant workers, it said. “Failure to act against these criminal operators led to global notoriety for Thailand’s seafood sector, as one of the most abusive and destructive economic sectors in the world.”

By setting international standards for decent work in the fishing industry, the International Labour Organisation’s Work in Fishing Convention (C188) is designed to eradicate these types of abuse. Earlier this year, the Royal Thai Government announced its intention to ratify this convention before the end of the year.

“However, industry representatives such as the National Fisheries Association of Thailand (NFAT) have been using aggressive and disruptive tactics to derail legislative reforms in a bid to avoid any regulation to protect workers across the fishing industry. NFAT has spread discord, disseminated misinformation and generally disrupted efforts toward much-needed reforms,” said EJF.

“NFAT has also reneged on its previous promises to cooperate with the government to eliminate human and labor rights abuses in the fishing industry.”

In 2019, Thailand will become chair of ASEAN, providing a “unique opportunity to demonstrate further leadership in the region, encouraging neighboring countries to follow suit”, it added.
Published on 30 November 2018


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