After a gap of 40 years the International Labour Organisation has adopted a new labour instrument - Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No 188) - for fishers on board fishing vessels through three discussions at the International Labour Conference between 2004 and 2007. Contrary to the earlier practice of a compartmentalised approach to fishing labour standards, a consolidated approach has been achieved by ilo in adopting this convention. In a single legal instrument it provides flexible and prescriptive standards with respect to minimum requirements for fishing, conditions of service, accommodation and food, occupational safety and health and social security. The scope of the convention, also for the first time, includes all types of vessel-based fishing, both large and small. However, it does not deal with non-vessel based fishing activities. This article provides a backdrop to the employment and labour dimensions, and to earlier ilo labour standards of relevance to fishing. It discusses the process which led to the adoption of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 and its salient aspects. Being an important instrument in establishing principles and criteria and in proposing a mechanism to improve labour conditions related to fishing, the article argues that the ilo member-states, in consultation with representative organisations of fishing vessel owners and fishers, should initiate a process to ratify the convention, develop national legislation to implement, and to apply its provisions, as appropriate, to benefit all fishers.