(Vatican radio) The Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), the organisation which oversees the spiritual and pastoral care of those working at sea held a two day conference at Cape Town, South Africa, from 22-23rd November this year. Representatives from different countries within the Indian Ocean region of the organisation took part in the conference which comes ahead of a global congress on the fishing industry, expected for 2017.
“We are looking at highlighting the presence of the AoS at the congress next year, especially looking at how best to safeguard the rights of the fishermen in any agreement,” explained Fr Jacques-Henri David, who is the Indian Ocean Regional Coordinator for the Apostleship of the See.
“We must also make people aware of the risks of violence and exploitation of these workers,” he said.
Fr Jacques-Henri went on to explain that much of the organisation’s work takes place whilst ships are in port, with particular attention being given to visiting fishermen who might be in hospital or even prison. He noted that the AoS is often the first point of communication between fishermen, port authorities and families, adding that this work is “essential.”
Also attending the conference was Archbishop Jabulani Adatus Nxumalo, the Archbishop of Bloemfontein and AoS representative for South Africa. Looking ahead to the Global Conference on the fishing industry Archbishop Jabulani spoke of his hopes for greater cooperation with governments and the industry.
“We’re hoping for greater agreements between governments and those in the industry who decide upon the contracts for the fishermen. We want to speak with organisations that represent the fishermen to see if the working conditions can be improved.”
The realities of the industry were also amongst the topics the Archbishop hoped to raise at the AoS conference, hoping that those at the top of the industry would give more recognition to the dignity of this type of work.
“Structures and laws must be put in place to safeguard the workers,” the Archbishop concluded.