The crime of illegal fishing involves the most heinous human rights violations that embrace slavery, human trafficking, and the smuggling of people, weapons, drugs and wildlife. With fresh cases hitting the headlines on almost a monthly basis, the time has come to take action to eradicate this hateful practice.
Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Ibu Susi Pudjiastuti, stated that up to 61,000 Indonesians were allegedly being treated as slaves on board foreign fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters. Meanwhile in domestic waters, IOM figures report that 1,207 out of 1,258 foreign fishermen are victims of human trafficking. In the sadly notorious Benjina case, meanwhile, the Minister said that more than 600 people were found to be victims of modern slavery.
The policy promised by New Zealand’s government of demanding registration for foreign-chartered vessels, is a first step, but there is a strong need for a structural change. This is precisely why Minister Susi is issuing a regulation that demands fishing vessels certify their compliance with human rights standards - based on the United Nations Principles on Business and Human Rights (Guiding Principles) - as a prerequisite to receiving their license to operate in Indonesian waters. The regulation is planned to be released on 10 December 2015, International Human Rights Day.
These were just some of the issues that were discussed at the International Workshop on Human Rights Protection in Fisheries Business, which took place at the Borobudur Hotel in Jakarta, on Monday 30 November 2015. Besides FIHRRST, other fundamental partners of the Ministry who were present included the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Marzuki Darusman, chair of FIHRRST praised the upcoming ministerial regulation as a breakthrough in the process of effective implementation of the Guiding Principles in the Indonesian fisheries industry, and as the way to free Indonesian fishery products from a supply chain shackled to slavery.
"We want to create a new history, the compliance of human rights in the fishery business must be encouraged," Minister Susi said. The hope expressed by the Minister, on behalf of all present, was that other countries will learn from this Indonesian example.