New Partnership to Improve Worker Conditions on Asian Longliners

Ocean Outcomes (O2) and One-Forty have joined forces to launch a pioneering education and training initiative for migrant workers in Taiwanese distant water fisheries.

The new initiative is core to a newly established partnership between the two organizations focused on coupling their respective expertise to support social responsibility in the Taiwanese fishing industry.

“Systematic training for migrant workers is essential to ensuring the sustainability of the fishing industry,” notes Kevin Chen, Founder of One-Forty. “Through empowering migrant workers, it is possible to generate positive interactions and relationships amongst fishermen themselves, and between fishermen and captains and larger sustainability goals.”

Migrant labor plays a crucial role in Taiwan’s distant water fishery. Around 22,000 foreign crew members work on Taiwan’s 1,127 distant water fishing vessels. The majority of these are Indonesians, Filipinos and Vietnamese. Prior to signing up to fish, many of these workers have few Chinese language skills and little fishing experience, if any at all.

Improving Taiwanese Fishing Industry Labor Conditions Through Training and Education The new partnership has the potential to expand social responsibility trainings to hundreds of migrant workers in Taiwan's distant water fisheries, such as for these 20 crewmembers who participated in a recent training program. © One Forty

Meaningful improvements in conditions for migrant labor

While environmental sustainability initiatives are on the rise in Taiwan, such as increases in Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certifications, there continues to be a disconnect between market-driven initiatives and meaningful improvements in conditions for migrant labor.

“Supporting our partners in Taiwan with fishery improvement projects (FIPs) has deepened our understanding of opportunities to improve human rights and working conditions for crewmembers,” notes Ho-Tu Chiang, who manages O2’s FIPs in the region. “Realizing this, we're building out more customized and worker-centric approaches to ensure crewmembers receive comprehensive and systematic guidance. The partnership with One-Forty will help us accelerate this approach.”

Improving Taiwanese Fishing Industry Labor Conditions Through Training and Education Crew receive language and fisheries-specific trainings, to prepare for work at sea. These trainings support the workers and can support larger sustainability goals. © One Forty

Equiping migrant labor with knowledge and skills

Providing educational and vocational training and resources at the recruitment stage will help better equip workers with the knowledge and skills needed to transition into their roles in the Taiwanese fishing industry. Subsequent language and fisheries-specific training while vessels are docked at port will better prepare and support crew for work at sea — improving language skills, their understanding of their rights and responsibilities, safe fishing practices, and larger sustainability goals, while also providing a fora for workers to provide feedback and share their experiences.

“Demand for migrant workers in the international fishery market is increasing,” adds Kevin. “Our programs provide training for this growing workforce in Taiwan, helping to equip them with more comprehensive industry knowledge, skills and language communication abilities. This will contribute positively to the long-term development of the Taiwanese fishing industry.”

Improving Taiwanese Fishing Industry Labor Conditions Through Training and Education The collaboration between O2 and One Forty provides a unique opportunity to reach, train and support migrant labor in a meaningful way. © One Forty

The initial focus of the work will be language training and educational programs for migrant labor on Taiwanese distant water fishing vessels engaged in FIPs and under the mandate of the Taiwan Fishery Agency. A first joint training session between O2 and One-Forty was piloted as part of One-Forty’s ongoing educational programs last month on a Chinese longline vessel with 20 Filipino workers. With the help of two Filipino teachers, the crew received basic Mandarin lessons, information on workers rights and provided feedback on topics of specific interest for future training, such as occupational safety.

An opportunity to scale work across Northeast Asian distant water fisheries

With migrant labor playing a key role in the sector regionally, both O2 and One-Forty hope to scale the work beyond FIPs in Taiwan to the broader industry, and even regionally.

“We believe our partnership with One-Forty represents a groundbreaking opportunity to integrate improved practices within a local context. This collaboration is more than a project; it's a potential blueprint for improved working conditions across Northeast Asia's Distant Water Fisheries,” adds Ho-Tu. “By successfully adapting to the unique complexities of working conditions in the industry, we can create a replicable model to inspire and guide similar initiatives throughout the region.”

Improving Taiwanese Fishing Industry Labor Conditions Through Training and Education © One Forty

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