With its long coastlines and fertile seas, ASEAN Member States include some of the world's top producers and exporters of fish and seafood products. The Asian region is also home to nearly 80 per cent of the world’s fishers, employing over 30 million women and men for work on fishing vessels and millions more in the broader seafood supply chain. Migrant workers fill a substantial share of these jobs within the region because of the increasing reluctance of nationals to pursue work in fishing.
Responding to growing concerns about exploitative working conditions for migrant fishers, ASEAN Member States have been working together to strengthen labour and social protections through regional dialogue. With technical and financial support from the Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia programme, ASEAN successfully adopted the Declaration on the Placement and Protection of Migrant Fishers at the 42nd ASEAN Summit on 10 May 2023 in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.
The ASEAN Declaration is an important step forward in ensuring safe migration for decent work in South East Asia’s blue economy. In the coming months, the Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia programme will provide support to the development of guidelines for practical implementation of the Declaration. At the same time, the programme will continue to advocate for governments in the region to ratify and fully implement the relevant international labour standards to make legally-binding commitments to decent work for migrant fishers, including the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188).