Pacific ministers commit to ending modern slavery in the region’s fishery

Pacific ministers commit to ending modern slavery in the region's fishery. Picture: RNZ

HONIARA, 02 JULY 2019 (RNZ PACIFIC) – Pacific fisheries ministers have made their strongest commitment yet to ending slavery and poor working conditions on boats operating in the region.

Forum Fisheries Agency member countries have endorsed a rule which establishes minimum conditions for crew on board foreign fishing vessels.

These include things like contracts written in employees’ languages and making sure all crew are treated with dignity and fairness.

The agency’s director general, Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen, said the protections apply to both domestic and foreign fleets.

“Our members themselves have set a deadline that by 1 January 2020 they will make best endeavours to incorporate these minimum conditions into their national laws, their license conditions, their access agreements and that they will report back through our governing structures on how exactly they have incorporated these.”

The region’s fisheries ministers also endorsed a new strategy for the Pacific tuna fishery at the meeting.

They spoke of mitigating and adapting to climate change and improving management of the longline fishery and they decided to adopt a new Strategic Action Plan for the region.

Dr Tupou-Roosen said it would it pave the way for a lot of important work in the region.

“The tuna our major stocks will move from west to east over time most notably after 2050. So, it is critical that we start looking at what current fisheries management regimes we have in place and how we adapt and make it flexible and robust in response to that type of change,” she said.

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