The Holy See has called on shipping’s main global regulatory body to improve the safety of fishers and to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Under the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Safety of Life at Sea Convention the safety of the world’s 1.5 million seafarers are protected, but there is no such protective regulation for the 40 million fishers, said Cardinal Peter Turkson.
Cardinal Turkson was addressing the IMO General Assembly held today in London where he led the Holy See’s delegation.
In a press briefing, IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim reiterated the Organization's commitment to fishing vessel safety and safety at sea.
Cardinal Turkson said the Holy See was grateful for the leading role the IMO and other organisations have played in ratifying and implementing global conventions that seek to promote the rights of seafarers and fishers.
He applauded global maritime charity Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) whose work has been at the forefront of providing welfare, practical and pastoral support to seafarers and fishers.
Earlier this year Stella Maris in the Seychelles reported an incident in which four Filipino fishermen whose work contracts had expired were desperate to return home to their families. However, the Captain of the trawler refused to let them go and pay for flight tickets to the Philippines. Following the intervention of Stella Maris and other agencies the men were eventually paid and repatriated.
Martin Foley Stella Maris European Regional Coordinator said, “We are delighted that Cardinal Turkson, representing the Holy See, has addressed the IMO General Assembly. His call to member states to uphold the human rights of those working at sea, particularly fishers, is most welcome, as is his support for the work of Stella Maris with seafarers and fishers in over 300 ports globally.”
Cardinal Turkson also conveyed Pope Francis’ appreciation for the IMO’s commitment to develop measures to control shipping emissions, which include regulations that mandate the use of cleaner fuel at sea.
“This places shipping at the forefront of efforts to decarbonise the global economy and promote investments in clean energy for sustainable shipping,” he said.
Fr John Lavers (Stella Maris South Coast Regional Port Chaplain), Tebaldo Vinciguerra (from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development), Cardinal Turkson, Dr Esteban Pacha (Stella Maris Chair of Trustees), Martin Foley (Stella Maris European Regional Coordinator) and Monsignor Vincent Brady (from the Apostolic Nunciature in the UK)
Cardinal Turkson being received at IMO Headquarters by Juvenal Shiundu, Director of IMO Technical Cooperation Division and former trustee, Stella Maris Chair of Trustees Esteban Pacha, Trustee William Azuh and members of the Holy See delegation Stella Maris National Director/European Regional Coordinator Martin Foley and Stella Maris South Coast Regional Port Chaplain Fr John Lavers.