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Fisheries need to be sustainable to conserve the word's stock of fish and to protect the marine environment – and so secure the livelihood of millions of responsible fishers.

Is regulation weak or strong?

Sustainable fishing is undermined because too many of the world's fishing vessels are registered under Flags of Convenience (FOC), and sail with no regulation over their fishing – or conditions for fishers. Even where vessels are properly flagged, enforcement of regulations is often weak.

The result? Waters are polluted and fish stocks plundered, as fleets travel the seas unchallenged by effective regulation.

The ITF:

Why are working conditions often bad in the fishing industry?

The fishing industry has some of the worst examples of workplace abuse.

The dominance of FOC vessels means that many fishing crews are exposed to physical abuse and callous treatment by employers, and lack the protection of the most basic contract of employment. Crew have been cheated out of wages, worked for months on end without pay or abandoned in foreign ports if they complain. In the most extreme cases, crew members have been used as forced labour and locked in their quarters or in chains. Such abuses have even resulted in the death of fishers.

What is the ITF doing?

The ITF is seeking to secure decent working and living conditions in fisheries through:

What is IUU fishing?

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a serious threat to the health of the world’s fisheries and oceans, and the secure and safe employment of fishers. Many unscrupulous owners benefit from the anonymity provided by Flags of Convenience. Across all oceans, IUU fishing accounts for 20% of the value of the global catch - amounting to between $4 billion and $9 billion per year. And approximately 15% of the world’s large-scale fishing fleet are either FOCs or flag identity unknown.

ITF is fighting IUU fishing as these ships:

The ITF Flags of Convenience campaign aims to end illegal fishing, and protect the seas and all seafarers.

Why are FOC fishing vessels a problem?

The fishing industry is dangerous enough, but the FOC system makes things worse. FOC fishing vessels are too often ageing and badly maintained. They can lack essential life-saving equipment. There have been extreme cases where crew have drowned because they have been locked in cabins.  Unregulated and illegal vessels have higher maritime casualties and greater risks of oil pollution.

What is the ITF doing about FOCs?

The ITF is seeking to improve safety in fisheries through campaigning for:
For further information on fisheries, please use the links to the right of this page.


Related pages:
FOCs | Contact Us | Abandoned Seafarers

Useful links:
The ITF is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Illegal Fishing Info

Stop Illegal Fishing on the High Seas

FAO: International Plan of Action Against Illegal Fishing


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