Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency enacts new crew welfare regulations

Press Release

6th August 2019

London. UK. Human Rights at Sea is pleased to report that as of 23 May 2019, the 17 member State Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) has enacted new agreed minimum terms and conditions in relation to crew employment conditions in support of enhanced protections for Pacific fisheries seafarers largely based on the ILO 188 Work in Fishing Convention.

The Harmonised Minimum Terms and Conditions for Access by Fishing Vessels (MTCs) are one of FFA Members’ key tools to regulate fishing access to their waters. They are a mechanism for setting agreed standards to apply in all FFA Members’ EEZs in support of the effective management of their fisheries resources. The MTCs apply to foreign fishing vessels licensed to fish in the EEZs of FFA Members. FFA Members can also apply them to their domestic fleets.

Legal application of the MTCs will occur through national legislation, regulations and/or licensing conditions.

Key paragraphs explicitly highly the requirement for respect and protection of international human rights standards, with the new standards to be enacted into national legislation in 2020.

Under the ‘Crew Employment Conditions’ is it stated that:

(c) The Operator shall observe and respect any form of basic human rights of the Crew in accordance with accepted international human right standards.

(d) The Operator shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that Crew are not assaulted or subject to torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment and shall treat all crew with fairness and dignity.

In the particulars of the Crew Agreement it further explicitly highlights that:

11. The right of termination by the Crew in the event of mistreatment and abuse;

12. The protection that will cover the Crew in the event of mistreatment and abuse, sickness, injury or death in connection with service;

Human Rights at Sea commented: “After a concerted effort in the region by both Government agencies, ILO, union representatives and civil society groups of which Human Rights at Sea was one organisation who has submitted four case studies highlighting terrible human rights abuses of Pacific fishers and their families, we are pleased to see the next steps taken by the FFA. The true test, however, will be the effective implementation of the Harmonised Minimum Terms and Conditions and transparent promulgation of effective remedies for dealing with all human rights abuses towards crew.”

Download Case Studies:


The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) strengthens national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries now and in the future.

Based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, FFA’s 17 Pacific Island members are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

FFA was established to help countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management through agencies such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

Since 1979, FFA has facilitated regional cooperation so that all Pacific countries benefit from the sustainable use of tuna – worth over $3 billion a year and important for many people’s livelihoods in the Pacific.

Download the complete document HERE.


Important Note to Readers

Human Rights at Sea continues to publish educational materials, publications, investigative case studies of individual and family testimony highlighting unacceptable conditions onboard vessels of all tonnages, as well as throughout the associated maritime supply chain, in order to establish greater public awareness of the issues raised without compromising our editorial freedom.

The charity does not subscribe to any imposed protocols and agreements with other entities effectively limiting the ability to report freely and objectively disclose facts, including the reality of unacceptable labour, and wider human rights abuses at sea.

The charity will therefore continue to take a legal and moral stand whenever and wherever it can to fairly advocate for the betterment of human rights, working conditions, and the reduction in abuse at sea. This includes pressing issues such as the criminalisation of seafarers and humanitarian rescuers, abuses towards migrants, impunity of flag States in transparently reacting to and addressing reported abuse, the expansion of the positive contributory role of civil society organisations in the maritime sector, and the provision of greater awareness of effective remedies when abuse occurs.

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We rely on public and private donations to be able to continue this invaluable and independent work free of bias and interference and every donation, however small or large, goes to assure continuation of our transparent and objective front-end work ensuring that ‘human rights apply at sea, as they do on land’. Thank you.

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