The BOBLME and ICSF organized Sub-regional Dialogue on Labour, Migration and Fisheries Management in Bangkok, Thailand on 11-13 December 2013, aiming to address the needs for improving labor standards in fishing to enhance overall capacity to comply with fisheries management measures and obligations at the national, bilateral, regional, and international levels. The event was participated in by representatives from various national and regional institutions relevant to labor, migration and fisheries. During the Dialogue, Dr. Magnus Torell, Senior Advisor to SEAFDFEC presented “Labour, migration and fisheries management in the context of sustainable use of fisheries resources in the ASEAN region”. He pointed that the 2011 Resolution and Plan of Action emphasized the necessity for improving working conditions of people engaged in fisheries activities, and strengthen measures for safety of fishing vessels taking into consideration regional specificity; while there are a number of on-going development in the region, e.g. the Good Labour Practice (GLP) Guidelines for the Thai Fishing Sector, which are based on national and international labor instruments.As Thailand is considered one of the largest hubs of fisheries migrant labors, with approximately one million workers associated in the whole seafood supply chain, several issues were discussed using Thailand as a case, e.g. on the Ministerial Regulation no. 10 on Sea Fishery Worker Protection under the Law Protection Act B.E. 2541 which covers fishing labors (including migrants) who work in fishing vessel with more than 20 workers and operate offshore less than one year only, therefore several vessels that operate in the high seas or neighboring countries more than one year are excluded in the employment protection regulations. The issues also included limited capacity of labor inspection onboard fishing vessels, the remuneration for labor forces which depends on the catch with unclear deduction, insufficient languages interpreter, inability of migrant labors to engage in labor union, etc. This Dialogue also improved awareness on poorly recognized linkages between fisheries conservation and management and social protection of fishers.
After deliberations, it was agreed that stakeholders related to migrant workers in fisheries sector of Thailand would continue the tasks based on their respective mandate, but using more integrated approach towards addressing emerging issues. The Dialogue was further informed on the on-going development of ASEAN labor standard, which would also include the aspect on fishery labor, and the draft would be circulated for comments once available. To support the work along this line, SEAFDEC would also continue its support especially on capacity building of fishery workers on safety at sea as well as facilitating the discussion among countries concerning with migrant fishing labor (both sending/receiving countries) to ensure the constitutional and livelihood rights of fishers and migrant workers on fishing vessels and in processing industries.