In much of the world it’s Labour Day, and we salute the workers who crew the tuna fishing vessels. These two fishers from a purse-seine crew are standing on between 700 and 1,700 tons of frozen tuna. It might be 35°C up here on deck, but once they are working deep in the hold, the temperature may be as low as –15°C.
When catches are landed at port or transhipped to a carrier vessel, the crew will work long days on shifts of about 15 hours, with five breaks. Work is suspended if it rains, as the rain damages the tuna – and it gives the crew a welcome break.
In the industrial tuna industry, the issue of working conditions and workers’ rights are complex and it is very difficult to make sure the existing rules and regulations are upheld in a way that is fair for crew. Across the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, FFA members have harmonised the minimum terms and conditions for obtaining fishing licences in FFA waters. These conditions now include labour rights. It’s a step in the right direction.
Photo by Francisco Blaha.