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Fishing : Protecting Pacific Fisheries Observers’ Safety, Security and Well-being

Ten Recommendations’ for improving working conditions at sea

London, UK. Human Rights at Sea today issues two new international peer-reviewed reports focusing on Fisheries Observer safety, security and well-being in the Western and Central Pacific region, including for Observers employed by Commonwealth States through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations.

The reports are part of an on-going and dedicated series. They follow-on from the proposed and widely-circulated ‘Ten Recommendations’ for improving working conditions at sea for Observers from the 1 July 2020 HRAS Report: ‘Fisheries Observer Deaths at Sea, Human Rights and the Role and Responsibilities of Fisheries Organisations’.

The aim of this innovative Pacific fisheries research is to further advocate for greater public international awareness surrounding the often lone-working conditions of Fisheries Observers and the challenges to their personal safety, security and well-being at sea.

Poor working conditions faced at sea are often invisible to the general public, as well as to policy and senior decision-makers as Fisheries Observers and their work is invariably ‘out of sight and out of mind’. This lack of public awareness has also been characterised as ‘sea blindness’ in the global shipping sector.

In undertaking this international development work, Human Rights at Sea is providing supporting independent research undertaken through fact-based evidence and analysis for regional Member-States and fisheries management organisations.  The intent is that this work may be taken into consideration for future policy and legislative developments explicitly focusing on the welfare of workers at sea.

Extensively peer-reviewed by WWF, the Association for Professional Observers (APO), Global Fishing Watch (GFW), OPAGAG, Pacific-based consultants, and academic staff at The University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, the reports cover two specific and complimentary areas of research.

Support of Fisheries Observers’ Safety, Security and Well-being

 ‘Developing Recommendations and Policy in Support of Fisheries Observers’ Safety, Security and Well-being‘: is a comprehensive review and analysis of the proposed Ten Recommendations in terms of the detailed background to their initial proposal, the need for and the future challenges of potential implementation by Member States. The report provides the next level of detailed scrutiny relating to safety issues being raised by States, commercial entities, NGOs and the families of deceased Observers.

 ‘Understanding the Working Conditions of Western and Central Pacific Ocean Fisheries Observers: A Baseline Survey‘: is a joint Human Rights at Sea and University of Nottingham Rights Lab civil-society and academic collaboration as the first of its kind in-sector.

The initial survey was initiated to again deliver increased public, State and commercial awareness of the issues Fisheries Observers face when operating out at sea through front-end engagement with the workers. The Survey was undertaken in memory of Eritara Aati Kaieru and all other Fisheries Observers who have been lost or died while working at sea, or have otherwise suffered injuries, disablement or other deprivations through their work.

Next Steps

A final fourth report in the series will be shortly published. This will cover the drafting and reasoning behind a new model Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) dedicated to the safety of Fisheries Observers.

All reports will be submitted to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), as well as being made publicly available to the international community.

CEO, David Hammond, commented: “This has been a significant research effort alongside international partners who have enabled the team to deliver well-researched, factual and peer-reviewed data. We aim that this independent work supports comprehensive efforts to protect the human rights of Fisheries Observers wherever they are working at sea in the world.”

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