In the culture of any country touched by the sea, there are poets, writers, artists who depicted in their own way the awe they felt once faced with the overwhelming power of the sea. Where I come from, the ‘poet of the sea’, Nikos Kavvadias was a master in describing how the eccentric moods of the sea define the sailor’s destiny.
But hardship and dangers of seafarers’ lives are not only elements of fiction. Figures from the International Maritime Organisation estimate that the annual casualties in the fishing sector worldwide are at 24.000 per year. Ships sinking, disappearances and accidents happen still far too often.
Last week, the Commission adopted its proposal for EU governments to make the necessary steps for adapting their legislation to the most advanced international standards. This would ensure that fishermen have decent working conditions on board fishing vessels with regard to minimum requirements for conditions of service, accommodation and food, safety and health protection, medical care and social security. This complements the agreement signed between European Union’s employers and trade unions in the sea fisheries sector, at last year’s European Maritime Day conference in Gothenburg.
With our future European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will focus on safety onboard, sponsoring safety jackets with GPS, and on better working and hygiene conditions, introducing tele-medicine.
These are important steps to make fishing safer and more attractive as a profession, which is one of the goals of the on-going reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.