Fish Workers Welfare
Campaigns and Action
Fish workers welfare campaigns and Action
programmes are meant to draw attention to processes that have
an adverse impact on the access of fishworkers to resources,
and to suggest alternatives that help defend their right to
life and livelihood. Towards this end, ICSF organizes seminars,
workshops and conferences, on the one hand, and lobbies international
processes, on the other.
The significant international conferences
organized by ICSF include the
International Symposium on Marine Environment and the Future
of Fishworkers in Lisbon in 1989;
Trends and the Future of Fishworkers in Bangkok in 1990;
of Fishworkers: New Concerns for Support, in Cebu in 1994;
on Gender Perspectives in Fisheries in Senegal in 1996,
Workshop on Fisheries and Coastal Area Management in Chennai
in 1996; and
Coastal Communities and the Indian Ocean’s Future in
Chennai in 2001.
These conferences were important forums for
the artisanal and small-scale fishworkers to highlight their
concerns and to influence the broader agenda of ICSF.
Several workshops and seminars are held to
influence decision-making processes to better integrate fisheries
interests into coastal area management, to emphasize the importance
of addressing the gender dimension and to disseminate the
content of important international instruments relevant to
the fisheries sector, like FAO’s Code of Conduct for
Responsible Fisheries. These processes facilitate an interface
between fishworker organizations, policymakers and NGOs.
At the international level, ICSF has influenced
decisionmaking at important conferences like the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the United
Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory
Fish Stocks and FAO’s Technical Consultation on the
Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. It has also facilitated
the participation of fishworker organizations in these processes.
Through the Coalition for Fair Fisheries
Arrangements (CFFA), ICSF actively makes an effort to influence
the fisheries access agreements between the EU and the African,
Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Focusing on the Pacific
and the Indian Ocean, ICSF campaigns for better conditions
of work on board distant-water fishing vessels. Along with
other European NGOs, ICSF has influenced the recruitment policy
of immigrant workers into the Taiwanese distant-water fisheries.
ICSF also lobbies the International Labour
Organization (ILO) and the Workers’ Group that represents
the interests of the industrial fishermen for the recognition
of artisanal and small-scale fishworkers hitherto considered
as belonging to the informal sector and hence not recognized
as workers eligible for social security benefits.
ICSF also associates with the review of the
Ocean’s Chapter of Agenda 21, the Committee on Food
Security and the Committee on Fisheries of FAO. It is further
studying the impact on fisheries of trade regimes under the
Uruguay Round. Also being monitored are the implications of
private ecolabelling initiatives for fishworkers in the South.
Monitoring and Research
Monitoring and Research programmes enable
ICSF to document and communicate important aspects of artisanal
and small-scale fisheries. Studies under these programmes
generate information useful for lobbying, for example, international
conferences and multilateral bodies.
Most of these studies, on topics like the
Lomé Agreement, fisheries resource management, women
in fisheries, fishing legislation, credit and insurance systems,
fish diseases, conditions of work on distant-water fishing
vessels and on coastal area management, have been published
Among the more significant studies
The State of World Fisheries from a Fishworker Perspective
This programme was conceived, inter alia, to generate reliable
information about fishworkers and their communities in different
parts of the world, in light of the fact that while information
about fisheries resources is readily available, little is
known about workers who harvest these resources for their
life and livelihood.
Crisis in World Fisheries: Response of Fishworker Movements:
When fisheries in several regions of the world are seen to
be in crisis, it is particularly relevant to study the response
of artisanal and small-scale fishworker organizations and
their politics of engagement for the sustainability of resource
use in fisheries. This programme was intended to document
these processes by facilitating opportunities for dialogue
between those part of, or supporting, fishworker movements
in India, Canada and Senegal.
The Impact of Trade on Fishing Communities: A draft paper,
Shell Out: The Shrimp-Turtle Dispute at WTO:
Conserving Sea Turtles and Protecting Livelihoods,
was prepared to study the implications of multilateral environmental
and trade agreements for small-scale fisheries. The study
shows how artisanal fishing communities inadvertently become
the victims of international trade disputes over fishing methods.
Social Security of Fishworkers and the Role of Subsidies:
The aim was to gain information on the possible forms of social
security that could be provided in the artisanal sector and
how such systems operated in other countries.
In 2000, the report titled Social Security for Fishworkers:
A Study of Welfare and Development Assistance Programmes in
the Marine Fishery Sector of Kerala State, India, put together
by John Kurien and Antonyto Paul of the Centre for Development
Studies, Trivandrum, was published in English as a SAMUDRA
monograph. The study analyzes the growth and changing composition
of social security provisions in the fisheries sector of Kerala
for the period 1964-1998.
Women in Fisheries (WIF) Programme:
Supporting the role of women in fisheries and enhancing their
roles in decision-making processes at various levels has been
a focus area for ICSF since its inception. The WIF programme
has been instrumental in highlighting and valorizing, through
workshops, country programmes, publications and studies, the
vital role of women in fisheries and fishing communities in
Apart from WIF country programmes in Ghana and Brazil and,
to a very limited extent, in Senegal and India, the WIF Programme
organized a Workshop on Gender and Coastal Fishing Communities
in Latin America in June 2000 in Brazil, a Workshop on Gender,
Globalization and Fisheries, in Canada and the Asian Fisherfolk
Conference in January 2002 in Thailand.
The Problematic of the Artisanal Fishing Zone:
The concept of the ‘artisanal fishing
zone’ has been a significant management tool recognized
by fishworker organizations right from the 1984 Rome Conference.
The idea was also formally proposed to the FAO’s Code
of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries by ICSF and was eventually
incorporated into the Code, with some amendments proposed
by member countries. It was recognized that this concept has
to be seen in the light of traditional migration patterns
of fishermen as well as the changing nature of the artisanal
sector, marked by technological changes that increased mobility.
While artisanal fishers of some countries may find the artisanal
zone a highly effective management tool, artisanal fishers
of other countries, who have developed the capacity to fish
in more distant waters, may find this concept unduly restrictive.
The following are the programme's
to discuss the practical implications for artisanal fishing
communities, of Article 6 Para 18 of the FAO’s Code
of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, on preferential access
to artisanal and small-scale fishworkers;
the history and status of exclusive artisanal fishing zones;
the implications of adopting the artisanal fishing zone and
other related management measures for conservation and better
allocation of fisheries resources.