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Convention 188, the Differentiating Element of the Spanish Fleet's Social Commitment Compared to Asian Fleets

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Thursday, May 30, 2024, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

In an effort to guarantee fair and safe working conditions for fishermen, Spain ratified Convention 188 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on work in fishing in 2022, beginning its effective application on February 29 of this year. This convention, adopted by the International Labor Conference in 2007 and in force since 2017, establishes fundamental standards to improve the living and working conditions of fishermen around the world.

Despite the importance of Convention 188, to date, only 21 countries have ratified it, while 160 countries have not yet done so. An analysis of the world map reveals that among the countries that have ratified the convention, 12 are European, 7 African, 2 from South America and only one from Asia.

Source: Opromar

The importance of this agreement and its recent entry into force was what moved the Organization of Fishing Producers of the Port and Ría de Marín (Opromar) to organize a necessary debate forum in which representatives of the Administration, the sector and the fishing, unions and non-governmental organizations.

Benefits of Convention 188 for workers and sustainability

The main objective of ILO Convention 188 is to ensure that fishermen enjoy decent living and working conditions on board fishing vessels, establishing a global minimum standard in the sector. Key protections offered by this agreement include: Minimum working age and mandatory medical examinations; Safe working conditions, including the provision of crews under the command of a qualified skipper; Standards for accommodation and food, basic medical care and the right to safety and health; and social protection in case of illness, repatriation and death.

In Spain, both the fishing sector and the administration are promoting the agreement as a differentiating element of the social commitment of the Spanish fleet in the world. Directive (EU) 2017/159, which transposes the content of Convention 188 almost literally, establishes the bases for its application in the Member States of the European Union, including Spain. Royal Decree 618/2020, recently modified, strengthens working conditions in the fishing sector and defines a harmonized system of inspections to ensure compliance with the agreement.

Challenges and Risks in the Fishing Sector

A report by the Environmental Justice Foundation reveals alarming working conditions in the fishing sector of Asian fleets. Of the fishermen interviewed, 100% reported abusive conditions, 96% reported excessive overtime, and 55% suffered physical violence. Between 2017 and 2023, four deaths were recorded aboard Chinese tuna longliners. Furthermore, the report indicates that 73% of those ships suspected of abuse of crews introduce their products into the EU market. These data highlight the urgent need to implement measures such as those established in Convention 188 to protect workers in the fishing sector, not only with regard to human rights, but also with regard to unfair competition. in the fleet market that does not meet any criteria

Regulatory cohesion

One of the main technical advantages of Convention 188 is that it unifies the dispersion of labor regulations that existed in the fishing sector, advancing regulations already in force. This not only improves the working conditions of fishermen, but also facilitates fair and sustainable competition in the global fishing market.

During the inauguration of the day on the effective application of Convention 188, the Secretary General of Fisheries, Isabel Artime, highlighted: “It is essential to guarantee decent work for fishermen, minimum safety conditions on board vessels and common rules for all. the States involved in fishing activity.” Artime stressed that the agreement includes crucial measures related to social security, medical care, food and breaks, improvements that are essential to promote generational change in the fishing sector.


The ratification of Convention 188 by Spain represents a significant step towards protecting the rights of fishermen and improving their working conditions. Spain positions itself as a leader in promoting fair and sustainable fishing practices, setting an example for other countries to follow.

The reading of the conclusions of the day by Opromar was carried out by Francisco Fernández, who highlighted that “obtaining the certificate of the Convention on work in fishing is a new challenge for the sector, but at the same time, an opportunity to demonstrate the application of the most advanced socio-labor standards on board our ships.” This certification, he said, “allows us to positively distinguish ourselves from other fleets from third countries, attract and retain qualified workers and, very importantly, guarantee generational change.”

The spokesperson for the organization also highlighted the fact that the different administrations present have stated that "obtaining the certificate will not be a problem for the Spanish fleet, given its high socio-labor standards", while pointing out their commitment to "minimize the burden “bureaucratic for shipowners, facilitating the certification process as much as possible.”

Specifically, this round table, in which representatives of the different administrations involved in obtaining the certificate participated (Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, Ministry of Labor and Social Economy) was one of those that aroused the most interest among those attending. Aurora de Blas, general director of Fisheries Management and Aquaculture, was its moderator and was also in charge of the closing of the event that concluded with a tasting of seafood products.

This event is part of the Opromar Marketing and Production Plan for 2024 and was financed by the General Secretariat of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the FEMPA.

Fuente: Opromar

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