Effective governance of modern aquaculture must reconcile ecological and human wellbeingso that the industry is sustainable over time. Without effective governance, therewill be misallocation of resources, and perhaps stagnation of the industry, irreversibleenvironmental damage, and social unrest. An important component of human wellbeing
is the treatment of the workers in the industry. The aim of this study, which wasrecommended by FAO Members during the Fourth Session of the FAO COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture held in Puerto Verras, Chile, in 2008, is to contribute tothe understanding of governance in aquaculture employment so as to suggest potential improvements where necessary.
A dozen farms and jurisdictions in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe were reviewed for their employment practices. Information on employment characteristics,such as educational background, gender and remuneration, was obtained from farms by survey. The aim is to evaluate whether workers in aquaculture are treated according
to the law, and are paid at a rate equal to those in similar sectors. The creation of employment appears to be a decisive factor in public perceptions of the aquaculture industry, as indicated in attitudinal studies.
The conclusions of this report suggest that aquaculture has benefited the overall socio-economic conditions of the areas in which it operates. The industry has provided jobs, particularly non-seasonal jobs. These have enabled young people to stay in their communities, enhancing the economic viability of isolated areas. Total remuneration levels in all of the enterprises surveyed were at, or above, the minimum wage, and usually above wages in alternative sectors.
Farms also provided indirect benefits, such as medical and pension coverage, and in some cases, bonuses. Attitudinal surveys indicate that these benefits are appreciated by the local population. However, there are negative aspects. Wages of unskilled workers in fish processing are low and working conditions often rudimentary. The dominance of large companies in areas of high unemployment can create a dualistic labour market that is reflected in wages; professionals are paid competitive salaries, but unskilled workers less than the value of their revenue product.
There is also the danger that labour laws are either poorly enforced or, where violated, result in fines that lack deterrence, perhaps because governments wish to retain a competitive advantage for their internationally traded species. A number of suggestions
are made that would improve the governance of labour in aquaculture.
Hishamunda, N., Bueno, P., Menezes, A.M., Ridler, N., Wattage, P. & Martone, E. 2014.
Improving governance in aquaculture employment: a global assessment.
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 575. Rome, FAO. 48 pp.