Human Rights at Sea and WWF have raised joint concerns around ongoing legal and human rights challenges needing to be considered for the intersessional work on labour standards of crews on fishing vessels in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
The development of the Conservation Management measure (CMM) for Labour Standards for Crews on Fishing Vessels has been an ongoing issue under close consideration by WCFPC members and official observers since 2020.
The submitted joint letter highlights four areas of civil society concern. Those being: explicit human rights referencing under the International Bill of Human Rights, explicit upholding of the international rule of law at sea for the common good, the dangers of state veto with national attempts to water down the draft text, and the need for enforcement at sea with associated effective remedies for victims of abuse.
‘How can we possibly expect the laws pertaining to conservation of our ocean resources to be followed if we cannot even ensure that these vessels are following the law with respect to labour and human rights?’ said Bubba Cook, WWF Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager.
‘The WCPFC must pass a CMM targeting crew welfare subject to stringent compliance standards this year.’
Ongoing concerns are additionally focused on the increasing use of drafting language which provides wide interpretation at the expense of positive requirements to both protect and exceed basic human and labour rights standards.
‘Official civil society observers to WCPFC are consistently pushing for explicit and unequivocal language that drives effective national enforcement at sea and specifically avoids kicking-the-can down the road due to national interests being placed ahead of safety and justice at sea,’ commented David Hammond, CEO, Human Rights at Sea.