Mallory MacDonnell, Geography, York University
Fisheries labour in Taiwan is a multifaceted relationship involving fisheries management, migrant workers, seafood commodity chains, movement of vessels, fishery ecologies, types of gear used on vessels, and environmental conditions. All of these aspects together produce distinct labour situations and processes. This paper examines three variables within this relationship: fish species ecologies, associated fishing vessel technologies and marine spaces, and how they intersect with working conditions and practices on distant water fishing vessels operated out of Taiwan. Potential variation within these three facets stems from the ecological niche of target species. Different gear technologies are required depending on the size of the species, where the species are at, the time scale, or species assemblages. This difference in gear is important, since the time length at sea can lead to poor or unacceptable working conditions and can create situations where workers are prone to more labour abuses. Decisions on labour standards within fisheries policy and regulations have not distinguished between the species of fish that fishermen are catching, the type of gear fishermen are operating, or the marine spaces where fishermen are working. These variables especially come to light when the fishermen are migrant workers in a space that has previously been and continues to be viewed as problematic in regard to labour practices. Migrant fishermen within Taiwan’s distant water fisheries are excluded from labour laws under the Ministry of Labour (Labour Standards Act) and are instead regulated by the Fisheries Agency (Act for Distant Water Fisheries). The labour protections under the Fisheries Agency do not meet the basic standards that domestically employed foreign workers have while covered under the Ministry of Labour.
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