Labor group seeks help covering Wi-Fi costs onboard Taiwanese fishing vessels

Indonesian fishers.

Seafood brands and retailers should share the cost of installing Wi-Fi internet connections on fishing vessels, according to a labor rights campaign group that has been pressuring the Taiwanese authorities to get that country’s large tuna fleet online.

"There are some concerns about increased costs to install Wi-Fi on vessels, however with improvements in satellite internet technology and planned government subsidies, these costs should be totally affordable for the industry,” said Kimberly Rogovin, senior seafood campaign coordinator at Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF), which met recently with the Taiwan Fisheries Agency to discuss the issue.

After the meeting, Rogovin said GLI-ILRF was “encouraged” agency representatives said it will subsidize the expansion of Wi-Fi on vessels over the next four years and will publish a list of vessels with connections aboard.

“Actors throughout the supply chain should share the costs to come into compliance with ILO C188, not only vessel operators, but brands and retailers too,” Rogovin said. “The costs to install Wi-Fi will be inconsequential compared with the benefits to fishers, captains, and the industry for enabling accessible communication for fishers at sea."

A worker representative from Forum Silaturahmi Pelaut Indonesia (FOSP), a group advocating for the largely Indonesian migrant workforce aboard Taiwanese vessels, said having Wi-Fi available on board would demonstrate the Taiwanese fishing industry commitment to improving transparency and working conditions. The FOSPI representative said workers on Taiwanese fishing vessels understood concerns among employers and captains who say Wi-Fi would disturb resting and sleeping time. But they said the addition of Wi-Fi onboard would alleviate the stress of long stretches of strenuous work, exacerbated by the isolation of a long fishing trip.

Photo courtesy of Forum Silaturahmi Pelaut Indonesia


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