Vatican News Staff Writer
The Prefect of the Department for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, stresses the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for renewed efforts by international organizations and governments to strengthen their commitment to enforcing legislation to improve living and working conditions. of fishermen. His call comes in his message to mark World Fishing Day which is observed on November 21st.
At the heart of Cardinal Peter Turksons’s message for World Fisheries Day is the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on the fisheries sector.
The cardinal notes that because of governments’ strategic responses to the Coronavirus, such as social distancing, the closure of fisheries markets, and reduced patronage of hotels and restaurants, this has created challenges for the sale of fresh fish and related products.
In this current situation, he points out, fishing, fish processing, consumption and trade have steadily declined.
Cardinal Turkon also draws attention to other chronic problems which are hurting the industry.
Challenges to the sector
These challenges, he continues, which constitute the crime of fishing, are the problems of overfishing and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) which continue all over the world with different flags and by groups that have powerful fleets and are the best of resources.
This state of affairs victimizes authentic fishermen and fishing communities with unfair competition and depletes fish stocks at a rate that does not allow fish to be recovered. It is a practice that is unsustainable and leads to declining fish populations and reduced production in the future, says the Cardinal.
Another area highlighted by the Prefect is that of working conditions for fishermen, especially in times of a global pandemic.
He goes on to say that sea fishermen have been affected by the closure of fishing ports and the inability to make crew changes. Moreover, the lack of Personal Protective Equipment has increased the risk of transmitting the virus because fishermen work in confined and enclosed spaces, he says.
As a direct consequence of this, the Cardinal points out that the crew members have been infected on a number of fishing vessels, and able to receive immediate medical assistance, they disappeared and were quickly buried at sea by their troubled companions. Often families know nothing about the fate of their loved one.
In his message, Cardinal Turkon underlines that issues of human trafficking and forced labor still remain. Moreover, he says, the vast majority of fishermen around the world, for various reasons, have been excluded from the basic social protection provided by some national governments and have been forced to rely on the generosity of charities or local community assistance for survival. .
In this time of pandemic, the Cardinal calls for greater solidarity with the most marginalized people, as explained in All Brothers by Pope Francis: Solidarity finds concrete expression in service, which can take various forms in an effort to care for others. “And service for the most part means caring for vulnerability, for vulnerable members of our families, our society, our people.
Time to act
The mayor describes the path to full protection of the human and labor rights of all categories of fishermen as a long and winding road. Again, he says, we raise our voices to call for a renewed effort by international organizations and governments, to strengthen their commitment to enforcing legislation to improve the living and working conditions of fishermen and their families, and to strengthen their fight against forced labor and trafficking in human beings.
Time to talk is over. It’s time to act!
Fishermen in trouble
Concluding his message, Cardinal Turkon turns his thoughts on this World Fishing Day to all fishermen around the world who are experiencing hardship and hardship.
In particular, he mentions eighteen fishermen of different nationalities from Mazara del Vallo – Sicily, who have been kept out of communication in Libya since 2 September.
Their families, “he notes,” continue to anxiously wait for information about their country and the opportunity to talk to their loved ones. “Above all, they want to be reunited with them.”
“For this simple, humanitarian reason, I call on governments and relevant national authorities to resolve this acute situation and find a positive solution through an open and honest dialogue.