On the eve of World Oceans Day, the urgency of WTO efforts on fisheries subsidies was highlighted.

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On the eve of World Oceans Day, the urgency of WTO efforts on fisheries subsidies was highlighted.

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On the eve of World Oceans Day, the urgency of WTO efforts on fisheries subsidies was highlighted.

Looking ahead to World Oceans Day on 8 June, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland, have emphasized the need to conclude two tracks of ongoing work at the WTO for ocean sustainability: entry into force of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies and the completion of a second wave of negotiations to strengthen the Agreement.

DG Okonjo-Iweala said in a video message: “Every year, governments around the world spend tens of billions of dollars in support of unsustainable fishing. About half of assessed marine fish stocks are already overfished, and these subsidies make the problem worse. In 2022, the WTO’s 164 member governments reached a new global agreement on curbing harmful fishing subsidies. Over 75 members have ratified this agreement, and around 30 more are still needed for its entry into force. We need to accelerate the implementation of this landmark global agreement for ocean sustainability and the blue economy.”

Ambassador Gunnarsson said: “A second wave of negotiations are underway on some additional provisions to strengthen the Agreement. WTO members say they want to conclude these negotiations as soon as possible. Many think we can do so before the summer break in August. I absolutely believe this can be done as long as we find the political will.”

DG Okonjo-Iweala added: “We can activate the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies and conclude the second wave of negotiations soon. Our oceans can’t afford to wait. And neither can the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on them.”

“Let’s work together to keep our oceans teeming with life, for people and the planet,” Ambassador Gunnarsson said.

Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies sets new, binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks. In addition, the Agreement recognizes the needs of developing and least-developed economies and establishes a fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the obligations.

The Agreement prohibits support for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing overfished stocks and ends subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas.

Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to adopting additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.

source: 3news.com

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