Tackling illegal fishing and poor working conditions in the fisheries sector were the focus of a regional dialogue held in Seychelles in May.
Representatives from 10 countries in or bordering the Indian Ocean took part in the 'Mahé Regional Dialogue on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, Decent work and safety at Sea'.
Human rights abuses in the sector, interlinkages between and among Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and fisheries associated crimes were also discussed.
To address issues related to decent working conditions and labour rights, countries are being urged to regulate recruitment agencies according to international standards among other measures.
Freddy Lesperance, a fisheries monitoring officer of the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA), said that this will "curb recurrent cases of illegal recruitment and ensure transparency in the recruitment processes."
"In the absence of national laws, regulations and strategies for small-scale fisheries development, states are requested to develop and implement in line with the guiding principles contained in the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries," said Lesperance.
Organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the session held in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, also addressed measures dealing with safety, coordination, collaboration and information sharing.
Felix Martin of FAO said in a press release that it is important to follow up on this work at international, regional and national levels.
"It's important to have stakeholders from governments, the seafood industry, fish worker organisations and unions from ten different East African countries working alongside us in the Seychelles to discuss concrete next steps to achieving decent work in the sector throughout the Western Indian Ocean," he added.
Lesperance explained that better working conditions will help alleviate IUU fishing as it comes with better incomes and decreases the harsh environment with safety equipment onboard.
"With better working condition, for example, having a clearer contract for fishers and knowing their human rights, will give them broader knowledge in the sense that they will know what IUU is, the importance to stop it and to not let their rights be abused by owner," said Lesperance.
He described the working condition of Seychellois at sea as "fair as they have safety equipment with also a good salary but there is room for more improvement."
The 10 participating countries also agreed to educate and sensitise fishers as well as making radio and TV programme targeting respective groups.
"The more the working conditions and safety at sea are improved, the more the workers will increase their products and this will have a direct impact on the economy bringing more income within the industry," said Lesperance.