Many coastal communities around the world have to constantly.

Deal with the problem of arrest and detention of fishworkers by States for unauthorized presence,


Vision Statement from Forging Unity: Coastal Communities and Indian Ocean’s Future, 9-13 October 2001, Chennai, India

6. Unauthorized trans-boundary movement of small-scale fishing vessels and the subsequent detention and punishment of fishworkers by States has become a major issue for many coastal communities as well as for administrators who grapple with the problem. This is largely the consequence of the declaration of exclusive economic zones (EEZs), which sometimes prevents coastal fishworkers from accessing their traditional fishing grounds. However, it is also a result of other compulsions, such as the enhanced fishing capacities of the artisanal small-scale fishing fleets as well as the depletion of local, coastal fisheries resources. This complex problem needs context-specific solutions that protect the human rights of fishworkers. It is important that: implementation of legislation to deal with the arrest and detention of fishworkers in the waters of other coastal States should be in accordance with Article 73 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 Convention), or contravene the appropriate articles in the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1976 and the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1976, among others. Penalties for illegal fishing should be based on the principles of necessity and proportionality;

States should evolve necessary mechanisms for the release and repatriation of arrested fishermen on a priority basis; recognizing that rigid enforcement of maritime boundaries in historic waters in relation to communities that live and fish close to such boundaries can lead to tragic consequences, the interests of such communities need to be accommodated, along with security and other national concerns; fishworkers using small-scale vessels apprehended in territorial waters for illegal fishing should not be prosecuted under laws that apply to illegal immigrants. In such cases, the fact that the illegal fishing occurs within territorial waters rather than the EEZ should not lead to punishments that are more severe than those for similar violations in the EEZ; and fishworkers should not be made victims of maritime boundary disputes between States. States need to have working arrangements that provide fishworkers access to resources in such fishing grounds for life and livelihood.

Siem Reap Conference Statement
Asserting Rights, Defining Responsibilities: Perspectives from Small-scale Fishing Communities on Coastal and Fisheries Management in Asia, Siem Reap, Cambodia. 3-5 May 2007.

Unauthorized trans-border movement of small-scale fishing vessels and the subsequent detention of fishers is an issue of concern for several Asian countries. The human rights of fishworkers, and the speedy release and repatriation of arrested fishers on compassionate grounds, should be guaranteed. States, particularly archipelagic States, should recognize the traditional fishing rights of fishers from immediately adjacent neighbouring States in certain areas falling within their national waters and should set up appropriate bilateral arrangements for recognizing these rights.