Vatican backs Port State Measures Agreement, denigrates IUU fishing

The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People has released a statement criticizing destructive fishing practices and human rights abuses in the world’s fishing fleets in an encyclical letter issued on 15 November, in advance of World Fisheries Day on 21 November.

The council cites an encyclical letter issued by the Pope to back its call for reforms in the fishing industry, according to the nonprofit news agency Zenit.

It praised the enactment of the Port State Measures Agreement, an international treaty designed to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and called for the ratification of the Work in Fishing Convention to help protect the world’s fishermen.

“Through the adoption and implementation of effective port State measures, the PSMA is the first ever-binding international treaty seeking to prevent, deter and eliminate the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a major environmental problem which causes great economic damages and threaten food security in many countries,” the council said in its statement.

The council also called attention to the safety of workers in the global fishing industry, citing its record of having high volumes of occupational accidents and high death rates. 

“On this World Fisheries Day we would like to call our attention also on the many fishers which find themselves in situation of exploitation and abuses,” the council said. “Unfortunately, it is not well known the tragic reality that, within the fishing industry, there are hundreds of thousands of internal/transnational migrants who are smuggled/ trafficked for forced labor on board of fishing vessels.”

In a written statement, Fabrizio De Pascale, the national secretary of Uilapesca, a trade union representing workers in Italy’s fishing industry, praised the council’s statement.

"[It is] an unprecedented event that sees the Church of Pope Francis intervene once again first and forcefully, on the dramatic reality of the violation of human and labor rights in the fisheries sector, calling on all states and the international community to reflect on existing links between illegal fishing (IUU) fishing and the inhumane and illegal exploitation of workers,” De Pascale said.


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