GENEVA, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- The International Labor Organization (ILO) said here Friday that it was giving a major boost to efforts to improve working conditions for millions of workers in the fishing sector, through a convention it had put into force.
The convention "sets the basic standards for decent work in the fishing industry," said ILO director-general Guy Ryder in a statement.
"Our commitment is to work to make this convention one that provides effective protection for all of the people who work in this sector," he said.
The ILO head said there was still a long way to go for the 38 million people working in fishing, but the labor organization believes it can provide protection for those working one of the world's most hazardous occupations.
Commercial fishing provides one of the most important sources of food, and is essential to food security, said the ILO.
Hundreds of millions people and their dependents rely on the sector for their livelihoods.
The ILO said that although many fishing vessel owners treat their crews well, fishers too often face serious challenges when it comes to attaining decent working conditions.
These include informal work practices, weather and seasonality, and the generally hazardous nature of working in the marine environment.
There are concerns about forced labor, human trafficking and the exploitation of migrant labor in fishing worldwide, and laws and regulation protecting fishers are often non-existent or unclear, the labor body said.
The ILO convention sets out binding requirements to address the main issues concerning work on board fishing vessels, said the ILO.
These include occupational safety and health and medical care, rest periods, written work agreements, and social security protection at the same level as other workers.
The convention aims to ensure that fishing vessels are well constructed and maintained so that fishers have decent living conditions on board.
It also helps prevent unacceptable forms of work for all fishers, especially migrant fishers.