Strengthening Decent Work in the Fishing Sector in South America

Project Duration
December 2021
June 2026
Funding and Year

This project aims to address labor abuses in the fishing sector in South America, with a focus on Ecuador and Peru.

The Problem

There is growing evidence of labor violations and human rights abuses in illegal, unregulated, or unreported (IUU) fishing off the coast of South America. Workers often lack written work agreements, health care, regular wages, or safe working conditions. They are subject to deception, restriction of movement, and isolation. 

In Ecuador and Peru, migrants who work on foreign vessels, artisanal fishers, and women who work in fish processing plants experience labor exploitation. While the governments of Peru and Ecuador have taken steps to address the problem, challenges remain. There is limited information about labor conditions in IUU fishing; laws and regulations fail to protect workers; governments lack the capacity and resources to address labor violations; and there is scant coordination among government agencies, employers, worker organizations, fishers, and other actors to promote decent work in the fishing sector.

Our Strategy

To improve workers’ rights in the fishing sector in Peru and Ecuador, the project will:

  1. Conduct research on working conditions in IUU fishing in Ecuador and Peru;
  2. Assess the institutional response to labor violations associated with IUU fishing in each country and develop roadmaps with labor authorities, worker organizations, employers, fishers, and civil society organizations to address them; 
  3. Train women who work in fish processing plants and artisanal fishers, including fishers without vessels, on freedom of association, collective bargaining, and occupational safety and health; and 
  4. Form networks of government authorities from Ecuador, Peru, and neighboring countries at the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission to establish common standards to carry out labor inspections in foreign-flagged vessels and jointly improve working conditions.
International Labor Organization (ILO)
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4900 / Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA)
Working conditions
Artisanal Fishers
Decent Work
IUU Ecuador
South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization
The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
Workers Organizations