With decent work and a sustainable model, aquaculture could feed the world

© Chosa Mweemba / WorldFish

GENEVA (ILO Info) – Harnessing the potential of aquaculture to effectively help feed the growing world population in the decades to come will require concerted efforts to promote sustainable businesses and decent work for its workforce.

These are the main conclusions of the technical meeting on the future of aquaculture work in the context of the rural economy (13-17 December 2021) which brought together representatives of governments, employers and workers from the ILO to discuss the challenges of decent work. and opportunities in the aquaculture sector.

Over the past decades, aquaculture has made important contributions to reducing poverty and hunger in many impoverished rural communities. It remains today an important source of livelihood and food for many rural workers. At least 20.5 million people work in primary aquaculture production. Many more are engaged along the aquaculture supply chain.

With a growing world population and environmental pressures, aquaculture is increasingly recognized as a potential to sustainably meet the challenges of food and nutrition security. In a number of developing countries, there is also growing appreciation for its role in enterprise development, job creation and diversification of livelihoods, especially for the rural poor. In order to promote the sustainability and growth of the aquaculture sector and harness its potential to advance sustainable development, inclusive growth and decent work, more emphasis needs to be placed on addressing employment challenges. and the workforce that the sector faces.

“If we are to ensure that the aquaculture industry contributes to inclusive growth and decent work opportunities for more women and men, we must create a level playing field and an enabling environment for sustainable production and workers to enjoy their rights at work ”, said Magnús Magnússon Norɖdahl, Chairman of the meeting.

“A sustainable and inclusive growth of the aquaculture industry could further be beneficial in terms of increased incomes and livelihoods for many rural communities, both coastal and inland, and in this process also contribute to the efforts governments to reduce rural poverty, ”added Fatih Acar. , vice-chairman of the government group.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt by both businesses and workers in the sector. Workers, especially in processing, are at increased risk of exposure to the virus, with long hours working in cramped rooms and low temperatures. Companies have struggled to stay viable, resulting in reduced working hours or layoffs, affecting the livelihoods of workers and their families. Lessons learned from the crisis should encourage reforms towards more sustainable and resilient aquaculture and food systems in general.

“The current pandemic has exacerbated decent work deficits in the sector. But many of these deficits existed long before it emerged, ”said Krisjan Bragason, vice-chairman of the Workers’ group. “Social dialogue, based on respect for freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, is the key to finding solutions that work for all.

“Coherent policy frameworks should be created, focused on the sustainable development of enterprises and the improvement of productivity, the promotion of inclusive labor markets, the development of skills and adequate social dialogue mechanisms involving employers’ federations. All of these will stimulate and enable the future growth of the sector, ”said Employers’ Group Vice-President Henrik Munthe.

The meeting adopted conclusions that will help governments, workers and employers to take action to harness the potential of the sector to support full and productive employment and decent work for all, thereby contributing to food and nutrition security and ensuring that no one is left behind. .

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