Europêche and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) are calling on the European Commission to encourage member states to prioritise access to a Covid-19 vaccine for those working in the fishing sector.
Fishers are crucial to ensuring food security in Europe but have not been prioritised in vaccination programmes, exposing them to growing infection rates on fishing vessels and preventing crew changes around the world.
“The fisheries sector has been recognised as an essential and strategic sector during the pandemic for its vital work in the supply of seafood and food security,” said Ment van der Zwan, Europêche spokesperson in European social dialogue. “To protect the supply, we need to protect the workers that support it and guarantee their speedy access to vaccines.”
Crews work in confined spaces where it is impossible to maintain physical distance and long working hours at sea make it difficult for them to access the current vaccination schedule. Europêche and ETF are therefore calling on the EC to help establish a specific protocol for fishers.
Their recommendations include prioritising fishers, coordinating vaccinations through national authorities, and, where possible, providing single-dose vaccines for workers who remain on board for long periods. They also emphasise establishing a right to receive a vaccination not only in the flag state but also in their country of residence and in port states.