Namibia is a pioneer country when it comes to addressing forced labour in fishing. The ocean protection agenda is just starting to include the very interconnected issues of labour rights and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and Namibia is leading the way.
In this podcast episode we explore how labour abuses such as forced labour and environmental degradation in fishing can be addressed at the same time. The episode also covers useful tools and resources for the private sector on how to tackle forced labour in fishing (see links below). It builds on a previous introductory episode where we looked at how child labour, forced labour, and environmental degradation in the fishing sector are connected (ILO GBNFL podcast episode 5).
Fishing is one of Namibia’s top industries and the European Union is one of Namibia’s most important markets. Following reports of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, as well as child trafficking and forced labour on some vessels using Namibian ports, the ILO and the European Commission launched an initiative in 2021 called the Supply Chains for a Sustainable Future of Work – Project Linked to Fisheries in Namibia. This has led to government coordination of environmental and labour inspections of fishing vessels, a standardized employment contract for fishers, and much more.
In this special episode, moderated by ILO GBNFL consultant Mariska van der Linden, we will hear the views of three forced labour experts involved with the ILO and European Commission’s project on what makes Namibia a pioneer. They will also share their top tips and favourite resources for the business community.
The national perspective
Oliver Mungu Numwa
National Project Coordinator
Supply Chains for a Sustainable Future of Work –
Project Linked to Fisheries in Namibia (ILO and European Commission)
The labour inspectorate view
Director for Labour Services
The Government of Namibia
The global take
8.7 Accelerator Lab
Free tools and resources for businesses
We asked each speaker what the most useful tools and resources are for businesses taking on forced labour in fishing and more widely. We have compiled their answers into the handy list below.
ILO and ILO GBNFL tools and resources
- ·Listen to the ILO GBNFL’s podcast episode What is forced labour and why should SMEs get involved? to find out what the ILO’s 11 indicators of forced labour are and how to use them. The ILO has also produced a brochure on the 11 indicators with further information.
- ·Mapping of organizations, institutions and companies developing digital solutions to address forced labour in the fisheries sector. This mapping provides a snapshot of digital solutions that are being used or are in the process of being developed or trialled to address labour rights abuses and forced labour in the fisheries sector.
- Towards freedom at sea: Handbook for the detection of forced labour in commercial fishing. The handbook is relevant for fisheries worldwide, but the tools it contains require adaptation to each country’s legal frameworks and fishing industry characteristics.
- These brochures on how to stay safe while working on a fishing vessel in Namibian waters can be used by the industry to raise awareness among fishers of their rights and responsibilities. The brochures include a section on violence and threats on board, which are potential indicators of forced labour. The brochures include a list of government phone numbers to contact in case further help is needed.
- The Toolkit on the fisheries supply chain in Namibia consists of links to key documents on responsible business conduct. It provides tools to all stakeholders including businesses on how to eliminate child labour and forced labour in the fisheries industry. The toolkit is relevant to all countries with a fishing industry.
- The Namibia field guide on labour inspections on board fishing vessels helps labour inspectors to ensure vessels are compliant with applicable labour laws and regulations.
Other useful resources
- ·The standardized employment contract for fishers will be published by the Government of Namibia in early 2024. Once available, it can be downloaded and used immediately by Namibian businesses. It aligns with national laws and the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188). The contract will be uploaded here as soon as it is available.
- Businesses can follow the Namibian Labour Inspectorate’ social media channels – @MLIREC and Facebook – to stay up to date of any changes to policies and regulations, as well as good practice.
- Namibia piloted the first-ever joint inspection of vessels in 2022 at Lüderitz and Walvis Bay ports, involving the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and the Ministry of Works and Transport. For more on this first joint inspection, please watch this short video, which also features some of our podcast speakers.
Relevant laws and other legal instruments
- The ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188).
- The 2012 Cape Town Agreement to enhance fishing safety.
- Namibia’s Labour Act 11 of 2007.
- More information on relevant Namibian policies and regulations, as well as contacts, can be found on the web pages of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation.
- Responsible Supply Chains in Asia – Responsible Business: Key messages from International Instruments provides an overview of key international instruments that help businesses to implement responsible business conduct. These instruments are:
– the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.
– the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
– and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.