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Countries urged to protect children

27 Jun 2013
Around 130 million children work in agriculture, livestock and fisheries © FAO/Abdelhak Senna

Around 130 million children work in agriculture, livestock and fisheries © FAO/Abdelhak Senna

A guidance document published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) says that although almost every country has signed international conventions to protect children, many have not translated these agreements into national legislation.

As a result, the document says, many children working in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture remain exposed to harsh and hazardous working conditions. They may have to dive to unsafe depths - often at night; work long hours in unsanitary processing plants where they are at risk of contracting infections; or handle toxic chemicals and dangerous equipment or gear. Girls working in fish processing depots are also at risk of sexual abuse.

"Work of this kind is intolerable", Árni M. Mathiesen, FAO Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture, said. "It affects children's health and learning abilities, and often prevents them from attending school."

The FAO and ILO estimate that around 130 million children work in agriculture, livestock and fisheries - accounting for 60% of child labour worldwide. However, the report also says that although there are many tasks in fisheries and aquaculture that children should not perform, not all activities engaging children are undesirable as some can be positive for their development.

The FAO and the ILO are urging compliance with international rules to protect children working in the industry and say that working with fishing communities is also essential to ensure that children receive adequate care and education, and are not involved in hazardous activities.

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Around 130 million children work in agriculture, livestock and fisheries © FAO/Abdelhak Senna

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