Tuesday, 07 February 2017

WTO members review proposals for addressing fisheries subsidies

WTO members gave their initial review on 24 January to a new paper from the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDC Group) regarding principles and elements for new multilateral disciplines on fisheries subsidies and further reviewed another three proposals from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group, the European Union, and six Latin American countries. All four initiatives seek to achieve the 2020 targets set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).SGD Goal 14.6 calls for prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminating subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and refraining from introducing new such subsidies, by 2020. Goal 14.6 also recognizes that appropriate and effective special and differential (S&D) treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations. Introducing the LDC Group proposal at a 24 January meeting of the Negotiating Group on Rules (NGR), Benin and Senegal said addressing fisheries subsidies was a priority for LDCs, who were not the cause of overfishing but were the first to be affected by it. The paper sets out disciplines to achieve the SDG goals in the future but emphasises the importance of S&D treatment. In this regard, Benin and Senegal noted that disciplines should be calibrated to target large-scale industrial fishing operating outside a subsidizing member's national exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and not to prevent artisanal and small-scale fishing in territorial waters. The fisheries sector is important to the livelihood and well-being of LDC members, and not all subsidies cause overfishing, they argued.