June 25, 2021 is the International Day of the Seafarer, an annual and international event day coordinated by the International Maritime Organisation to recognise the contribution by seafarers to society and economy globally. The day encourages international public and official conversation about seafarers and seafaring, and the well-being of those involved in it.
The International Day of the Seafarer was first held in 2010 following the publication of a revised set of international laws (Maritime Labour Convention 2006) which were agreed to ensure that all seafarers receive the same levels of training, general welfare and safety standards.
In 2018, the Fishing Industry Association of Papua New Guinea (FIA-PNG) committed to implement and comply with a Responsible Sourcing Policy (RSP) that includes among other pillars, a pillar looking at the crew welfare, labor, and social requirements for the tuna fleet.
The FIA-PNG RSP crew welfare requirements go beyond a public commitment. In 2019, the FIA tuna fleet started a crew welfare and social requirements audit program and implementation. The program was used to assess the labor on-board conditions against International Labour Organization Convention 188 (ILOC188), FFA crew manning, Conservation Management Measure (CMM) on Labor Standards for the crew on fishing vessels, AENOR, Responsible Fishing Vessels Scheme, Maritime Labor Convention 2006 and other 20 guidance, standards and regulations under the on-board social accountability methodology.
As of today, 35% of the FIA-PNG tuna fleet that is part of the MSC fishery certification has been audited, assessed and it is complying with these requirements. This is a journey that FIAPNG is moving ahead in this area.
On the other hand, since 2012, FIA-PNG tuna processing factories members have already been complying with labor and social standard like BSCI agreement and/or other labor and social audit processes that include ICS and SEDEX. The FIA-PNG RSP extended this commitment to the fishing operation to have a comprehensive fishery approach looking at human rights too and workers’ welfare.
The FIA-PNG RSP does not want to re-invent the wheel when it comes to labor on-board and social labor standards. FIA-PNG RSP seeks to harmonize with all current standards, guidelines, and regulations to ensure that its tuna fleet members comply with them. FIA-PNG is ensuring the tuna supply chain from harvesting, unloading, and processing fully complies in this way.
FIA-PNG will also ensure that it addresses the way business is conducted with ethical, lawfully and integrity, free from child labor; freedom of association; do away with forced labor, equitable wages, benefits, and labor contracts, repatriation; control of crew onboard, working hours; health and safety; discrimination, harassment, worker voice, accommodation & living conditions, grievance mechanisms; and control of suppliers.
The FIA-PNG RSP policy v4.0 (2019) has been shared with all members and the commitment is publicly available on the FIA-PNG website (www.fia-png.com). We have recently started in May 2021 with a full implementation process that includes procedure development, audit tool, webinars, and auditing.
The FIA-PNG MSC fishery certification is the third, largest MSC tuna fishery certified, and it is demonstrating a commitment to social and labor standards in the global tuna fishery.
“Fishery depends on people, — and with our tuna companies being transparently audited against them — we are leading and implementing a unique and positive process in the Pacific and across the world’s tuna fisheries”, the FIA-PNG Chairman Sylvester Pokajam stated.
FIA-PNG tuna fleet provides around 2,260 direct jobs to crew on board and also provides indirect job to supporting work-force at landbased unloading ports and reception facilities.
FIA-PNG participating tuna member companies include:
Majestic Seafoods Corporation Ltd (cannery) - based in Lae
International Food Corporation Ltd (cannery) – based in Lae
RD Tuna Canners Ltd (cannery) – based in Madang
Nambawan Seafoods Corporation Ltd (cannery) – based in Lae
South Seas Tuna Corporation Ltd (cannery) – based in Wewak
Frabelle Cannery Ltd (cannery) – based in Lae
Majestic Seafood Corporation Ltd (fishing) – based in Lae
International Food Corporation Ltd (fishing) – based in Lae
Nambawan Seafood Corporation Ltd (fishing) – based in Lae
RD PNG Fishing Ltd (fishing) – based in Lae
Frabelle PNG Fishing Ltd (fishing) – based in Lae
Fair Well Fishing Company (fishing) – based in Port Moresby
TSP Marine Industries (PNG) Ltd (fishing) – based in Lae
Trans-Pacific Journey Fishing Corp (fishing) – based in Lae
Seafarers Day 2021 will continue to campaign for greater governmental support for seafarers on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also highlighting the need for all seafarers to receive the same standards of care when it comes to training opportunities, safety standards and workplace welfare both now and in the future.
It is hoped that by commemorating the International Day of the Seafarer, the general public will become more aware of the role that seafarers in the fisheries sector, and more so seafarers in general, play in their lives and why they are so fundamental in determining the prosperity of PNG’s economy and the worldwide economy at large.