Stella Maris redoubles efforts to support fishers amid pandemic

The Chief Executive of Stella Maris UK, Martin Foley welcomes Cardinal Peter Turkson’s message for World Fisheries Day and says as the maritime industry faces greater challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the onus is on Stella Maris to redouble its efforts to step-up its support for fishers and their families.

Nov 23, 2020

By Lydia O'Kane
Every year on November 21, World Fisheries Day is observed to highlight the importance of the marine-based labour sector.

An estimated 59.5 million people are employed in this industry, and one out of two workers is a woman.

A message issued on Friday to mark World Fisheries Day by the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, highlights that “Asia has the highest number of workers, in this sector, and contributes some 85 per cent of the world total labour force; and with 3.1 million vessels, it accounts for 68 per cent of the global total fishing fleet.”

As the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic, Cardinal Turkson notes that the outbreak has had “dramatic consequences for the economies of many countries and a severe impact upon more vulnerable sectors such as fisheries.”

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Martin Foley, Chief Executive Officer and European Regional Coordinator of Stella Maris UK, an agency of the Catholic Church which offers practical and pastoral care to all seafarers, welcomed the Cardinal’s message.

“It demonstrates the support of the Church through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, for fishers and their families that during these challenging times the Church through Stella Maris’ mission to seafarers and fishers remains close to them.”

Working conditions
As the world grapples with this global pandemic, one of the problems that have been laid bare is a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for fishers. Addressing this issue, Mr Foley said that even pre-pandemic “many fishers were denied adequate PPE. Now with the added risks posed by the pandemic, it’s even more important that fishers are supplied with adequate PPE.”

He went on to say that Stella Maris’ Chaplains in many ports around the world are giving face masks to fishers and helping them with basic hygiene measures. The CEO also stressed that providing this equipment was “primarily the responsibility of their employers”.

Rights for fishers
As the world grapples with this global pandemic, one of the problems that have been laid bare is a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for fishers. Addressing this issue, Mr Foley said that even pre-pandemic “many fishers were denied adequate PPE. Now with the added risks posed by the pandemic, it’s even more important that fishers are supplied with adequate PPE.”

He went on to say that Stella Maris’ Chaplains in many ports around the world are giving face masks to fishers and helping them with basic hygiene measures. The CEO also stressed that providing this equipment was “primarily the responsibility of their employers”.––Vatican News

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