Geneva — The UN’s labour organisation announced on Tuesday that the first fishing boat had been detained under its convention, which came into force last year, with the aim of protecting workers in the hazardous industry.
The boat was detained in Cape Town in May after the crew complained about the working conditions to local inspectors, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said.
ILO spokesman Hans von Rohland told AFP that "the ship was from Taiwan" and its owner was based there. Once the ship was seized the inspectors found a long list of problems, including a "lack of documentation, poor accommodation, insufficient food for fishers, and poor safety and health conditions on board", the ILO said in a statement.
Thelma Paul of the South African Maritime Safety Authority said only two crew members had work agreements and "there was not even a crew list ... The lifebuoys were to be replaced because they were rotten, the anchors were not operational and one was even missing".
The crew told the inspectors they wanted off the boat, saying they had to manually pull in caught fish and carry heavy loads to a storage facility. The vessel, which had been deemed unseaworthy, was released in June after being repaired.
The Work in Fishing Convention aims to ensure adequate and safe conditions for the estimated 38-million workers in the fisheries industry, which has been plagued by exploitation, forced labour, and human trafficking.
The convention was adopted in 2007 but only came into effect in November last year when it was ratified by a 10th country, Lithuania.