FAO, ILO release first draft guidance document on child labour in fisheries

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have released the first draft of a guidance document that aims to help policymakers and government authorities tackle the thorny issue of child labour in fisheries.

According to the two bodies in a statement December 23, 2011, activities in which children engage can range from actively fishing, cooking on boats, diving for reef fish or to free snagged nets, herding fish into nets, peeling shrimp or cleaning fish and crabs, repairing nets, sorting, unloading, and transporting catches, and processing or selling fish.

While some of these activities are extremely dangerous, others are not — work performed by children and child labour are not necessarily the same thing, according to the FAO-ILO document.

The document is titled “FAO-ILO guidance for addressing child labour in fisheries and aquaculture: policy and practice.”

While child labour impairs children’s well-being or hinders their education and development, the document says other types of work are not, and can even be beneficial to children of a certain a age interventions aimed at stemming child labour must be able to make this distinction.

Bernd Seiffert, an official at FAO’s Economic and Social Department said in the statement that “The FAO-ILO guidance document seeks to shed light on this issue , as well as on the nature, scope, causes and consequences of child labor in fisheries and aquaculture.”

“It also provides guidance to governments and development agencies in how to identify where child labour in fisheries and aquaculture is happening, sort out situations in which children are helping support family livelihoods from bad-practices, mainstream these considerations in national policies, and develop strategies for dealing with it,” added Rolf Willman of FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.

The document outlined the following as some of the recommendations:

·    Ensuring that national labour legislation provides full protection of children.

·    Promoting implementation of that legislation through incentives and enforcement mechanisms.

·    Involving local communities in tackling the issue

·    Supporting education and anti-poverty projects in communities at risk

·    Improving coordination between government agencies working on rural development, poverty and labour issues

·    Incorporating child labor considerations into “port state measures” use to check ships coming in to  port

·    Establishing good programmes to promote safety-at-sea in the fishing sector that include issues of child labor

However, the statement says FAO and ILO are currently seeking public feedback on the document in order to release a final version later next year (2012).

By Ekow Quandzie

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