Welcome to the Human Rights at Sea Fisheries Observers Initiative supporting social justice improvements through tackling human and labour rights abuses at sea and increasing safety, security and well-being of fisheries observers working around the globe.

The aim of our research is to further advocate for greater public international awareness surrounding the often lone-working conditions of Fisheries Observers and the challenges to their personal safety, security and well-being at sea. Poor working conditions faced at sea are often invisible to the general public, as well as to policy and senior decision-makers as Fisheries Observers and their work is invariably ‘out of sight and out of mind’. This lack of public awareness has also been characterised as ‘sea blindness’ in the global shipping sector. In undertaking this international work, Human Rights at Sea is providing and supporting independent research undertaken through fact-based evidence, data and analysis for regional Member-States and fisheries management organisations. The intent is that this work may be taken into consideration for future policy and legislative developments explicitly focusing on the human rights and welfare of workers at sea.


The Role of a Fisheries Observer

‘‘If an observer discovers things they weren’t intended to know about, they can face intimidation, threats, violence and, in the worst cases, murder.’’  'The Role of a Fisheries Observer' insight is provided by Martin Purves, who prior to his present role as the Managing Director of the International Pole and Line Foundation, spent years at sea in fisheries management roles, including as a fisheries observer.

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1 July 2020 Initial Observer Report

“Is there a ‘thank you’ to the observer? Something to sustain his widow and children for a few years, at least? Not often. The final ignominy is that compensation or insurance takes ‘a little while’ to come, if it does at all.” The first of a series of extensive human rights reports looking into the ongoing issue of Fisheries Observer protections and deaths at sea.

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11 November 2020 Follow Up Report

Developing Recommendations & Policy in Support of Fisheries Observers’ Safety, Security & Well-being. 11 November 2020. A comprehensive review and analysis of the proposed Ten Recommendations from 1 July 2020 report in terms of the detailed background to their initial proposal, the need for and the future challenges of potential implementation by WCPFC Member States.

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2020 WCPFC Observer Baseline Survey

This joint Survey Report with The University of Nottingham (UK) Rights Lab expands on the first 1 July 2020 report: Fisheries Observer Deaths at Sea, Human Rights and the Role and Responsibilities of Fisheries Organisations. It is also complimentary to the 11 November 2020 follow-on report: Developing Recommendations and Policy in Support of Fisheries Observers’ Safety, Security and Well-being.

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2020 WCPFC Conservation & Management Measure (CMM) Proposal

The peer reviewed document comprises a model CMM specifically targeted towards the increased protection of Fisheries Observers working at sea. It addresses the suggested text and detail for the comprehensive application of core human and labour rights standards and protections that is being passed to the 26 Member Commission. The newly proposed text comes with explanatory comment, and is based on the underlying, fundamental and founding principle that; ‘human rights apply at sea as they do on land’.

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Independent Case Review of Death of Eritara Aati Kaierua

The follow-on independent case review and report into the conduct of the investigation of Kiribati fisheries observer, Eritara Aati Kaierua, who died at sea in March 2020 while fishing in waters in the Naura Economic Exclusion Zone including family impact statement, detailed timeline of events to date and independent legal counsel's intervention letter.

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Fisheries Observer Information Infographic 1.0 June 21

The first version (1.0) of a detailed independent review into the role, responsibilities and context of a Fisheries Observer produced with peer review, commercial, civil-society, and professional association support from the Association of Professional Observers (APO), WWF, Blue Marine Foundation, SFCT, Global Tuna Alliance and PNA Tuna. Thanks also for the review by the United States Coastguard.


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Cover Note to the Fisheries Observer Information Infographic 1.0 June 21

The Cover Note to the Fisheries Observer Information Infographic 1.0 (May 21) outlining the background, the need and reasoning for the development of the infographic. The aim of the infographic is to provide an independent, iterative and accurate overview of key information concerning the role, safeguards, standards and the lawful working environment for fisheries observers.

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