Many coastal communities around the world have to constantly deal with the problem of arrest and detention of fishworkers by States for unauthorized presence of small-scale fishing vessels in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of non-flag States. Such presence arise from a number of factors ranging from a desire to access fishing grounds traditionally fished by non-flag State vessels, to depletion of fish stocks in waters of flag States, to enhanced capacities of the artisanal small-scale fishing fleets that spill over into waters of other coastal States. This problem, however, needs context-specific solutions that will 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 (UNCLOS or 1982 Convention), and should not 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.

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