Seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) will step up its support for fishermen this year as efforts to crack down on fishing industry exploitation continue.
Some of the most acute welfare needs are seen in the sector, and AoS regional coordinators who met last week in Sydney agreed to pay specific attention to this issue.
During 2016, each AoS region will hold a chaplains' conference devoted exclusively to fishers.
These regional conferences will then inform the programme for the 2017 AoS World Congress, to be held in Taiwan and focused on fishing.
The recent conference in Sydney was held from 11 to 13 March and part funded by Seafarers UK.
It was attended by AoS coordinators from North America and the Caribbean, West Africa, Indian Ocean, Gulf countries, South Asia, East South East Asia and Oceania.
They also considered the issues of forced migration and trafficking and AoS’ work around the world in supporting the victims of forced migration and trafficking, as well as caring for seafarers who are often the first responders to situations of forced migration and trafficking either at sea or in port.
The coordinators reflected on the theology of mission and how AoS can respond with greater effectiveness to Pope Francis' call to reach out to those on the margins of society.
The new Stella Maris seafarers' App was endorsed and the coordinators agreed to promote it to seafarers across their regions.
Father Bruno Ciceri of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People which oversees the work of AoS worldwide said: "Our regional coordinators' conference gave us an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful work being done by AoS chaplains and ship visitors around the world.
“AoS personnel are on the front-line in so many ports around the world, serving the needs of seafarers and representing a practical expression of the Church's care for those on the margins of society."