Thailand first in Asia to ratify ILO Fishing Work pact

Thailand underscored its commitment to creating a more responsible fishing industry last week by becoming the first nation in Asia to ratify the International Labor Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention, known as C188.

The convention is designed to foster better working conditions for people working in the fishing industry and protect workers’ rights, health, and safety. Labor and human rights advocates have cited the global fishing industry for being rife with abuses including human trafficking.

“This ratification will set a new standard for fishing crews, which will result in better conditions. Hopefully the improved conditions will attract more Thais and foreigners to the industry,’’ said Minister of Labor Adul Sangsingkeo in announcing Thailand’s decision to sign on to the convention last week.

ILO Chief for Thailand, Laos and Cambodia Graeme Buckley praised the Thai government for its “sincerity in upgrading fishing standards.”

The Thai government took comprehensive and committed action and the efforts have not been politically easy but the government demonstrated resolve in pushing forward with the agreement. Petcharat Sinuay, the head of the Department of Employment said, however, that in a series of public hearings on ratifying the convention that many fishing operators supported it “because it benefits employers, workers and the image of the Thai fishing industry.”

Thailand has passed several laws to adhere to the requirements listed in the convention, including laws that set the minimum age of workers, maximum working hours, and require employers to conduct routine medical check-ups for fishing crews.