WTO aiming to net fishing deal

The end of 2020 marks the non-binding deadline for eliminating subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

24 November 2020 | Economics

If subsidies allow fishing to be made more sustainable … then it must be permitted. - Jean-Marie Paugam, French representative: WTO

Agnès Pedrero - Negotiations on banning billions of dollars in fisheries subsidies are coming to the crunch at the beleaguered World Trade Organisation, with the deadline to net a deal fast approaching.

Disagreements persist, especially over what the outcome might mean for developing countries, while over-fishing continues to strip the seas of a hugely important resource on which millions of people depend for their livelihoods.

Negotiations began at the WTO in Doha in 2001 and got a much-needed boost with the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

That set the end of 2020 as the non-binding deadline for eliminating subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

It also bans certain types of subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, while providing special treatment for the world's developing and least developed countries.

Member states have so far failed to reach an agreement but pressed into action by the approaching deadline, negotiators have been beavering away since September on the basis of a confidential working document.

Their work has been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic and several countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Namibia, doubt the deadline can be met, according to a source close to the discussions in Geneva, where the WTO is based.

OVER-FISHING

Global fisheries subsidies stood at US$35.4 billion in 2018, with US$22 billion of that going towards building up fishing fleets, according to Ussif Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia in a study which is regularly cited by diplomats.

Meanwhile the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has an increasingly alarming outlook on over-fishing.

The FAO said a third of commercial fish stocks were fished at biologically unsustainable levels in 2017.

Global fisheries production in 2018 reached a record 96.4 million tonnes - up 5.4% on the average across the three previous years.

The increase was mainly due to marine fisheries, in which the top seven producing countries - China, Indonesia, Peru, India, Russia, the United States and Vietnam - account for almost half the total catch.

GOOD OR BAD?

Despite the years of discussion, multiple fault lines still exist, including over whether there are good subsidies and bad subsidies.

European countries and others such as Japan and South Korea want a ban on subsidies, except where it has a positive impact and any potential negative effects can be cancelled out.

"If subsidies allow fishing to be made more sustainable - for example by developing the use of selective nets - then it must be permitted," said Jean-Marie Paugam, France's permanent representative to the WTO.

Others believe, on the contrary, that any subsidy is inherently bad and should be removed. There are also voices calling for subsidy caps.

According to the same source close to the talks, Brazil has put forward a plan under which the biggest subsidisers would have to make big reductions, while those giving less than US$25 million in annual subsidies would be exempt.

DEVELOPING NATIONS

One of the main stumbling blocks remains how developing countries and the poorest nations will be treated.

Some, such as India, are calling for them to be almost completely exempt from any constraints.

That demand is difficult for everyone to accept, especially since the WTO system allows its members to self-identify as developing countries.

Many of the major fishing nations are considered developing countries, including China, which has one of the biggest fishing fleets.

NGOs stress the importance of reaching an agreement, believing it would, in any case, favour smaller fishing enterprises in poorer countries.

An agreement "will benefit small-scale fishermen, because when we talk about fishing subsidies, approximately 80 or 85% goes to large-scale industrial fishing," Remi Parmentier, an advisor to the Friends of Ocean Action group, told AFP. – Nampa/AFP

Similar News

 

South Africa's mining industry to support vaccine rollout

21 hours ago | Economics

South Africa's mining companies will support government in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines as the nation battles a surge in infections, the industry body said...

Price monster continues to be gentle

21 hours ago | Economics

The annual inflation rate for December 2020 stood at 2.4%, down from 2.6% recorded in December 2019, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points.This brings great...

Kenya Airways plans more pay cuts

21 hours ago | Economics

Kenya Airways plans further pay cuts for employees of as much as 30% after the airline was hit by the coronavirus pandemic that has caused...

Namibian economy expected to continue bleeding red ink

21 hours ago | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUAlthough most economies, including South Africa, rebounded in in the third quarter of 2020, Namibia’s economy remains into deeper recession.According to Indileni Nanghonga, the...

China remains a top market for Namibian exports

1 day - 18 January 2021 | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUTotal exports deteriorated in November last year by 3.9% when compared to its level of N$8.3 billion observed in November 2019.The top three countries...

Nudo supports striking Shoprite employees

1 day - 18 January 2021 | Economics

The National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) has thrown its weight behind employees of the Shoprite group who have been striking since December for better wages.Employees...

Vulnerable residents relocated to avoid flooding

1 day - 18 January 2021 | Economics

Residents of informal settlements who were relocated by the City of Windhoek (CoW) from riverbeds and other areas to lessen their exposure to flooding have...

Ivory Coast faces 100 000-tonne cocoa bean pile-up

1 day - 18 January 2021 | Economics

ANGE ABOAA pandemic-induced slowdown in global chocolate demand has led to a pile-up of about 100 000 tonnes of cocoa beans in Ivory Coast's interior,...

Nearly half-billion up for SME loans

4 days ago - 15 January 2021 | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUFast tracking the disbursing of loan payments is of critical importance to ensure that affected Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) receive funds on time...

TransNamib unable to meet wage increment demands

4 days ago - 15 January 2021 | Economics

TransNamib management said the company is currently unable to meet any wage increases due to its well documented weak financial position.TransNamib stated this while responding...

Latest News

South Africa's mining industry to...

21 hours ago | Economics

South Africa's mining companies will support government in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines as the nation battles a surge in infections, the industry body said...

Price monster continues to be...

21 hours ago | Economics

The annual inflation rate for December 2020 stood at 2.4%, down from 2.6% recorded in December 2019, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points.This brings great...

Audit firm ‘knew’ of Fishcor...

21 hours ago | Crime

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKStier Vente Associates, external auditors for beleaguered state fishing company Fishcor, only reported the suspicious Fishrot-related transactions to the Public Accountants’ and Auditors’ Board...

Covid-19: Former Rundu mayor Ihemba...

21 hours ago | People

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDURundu mayor Gabriel Kanyanga has described former Rundu councillor Ralf Ihemba, who died from Covid-19 yesterday, as a hero and a loyal Swapo cadre.Kanyanga...

Creating change through gaming

21 hours ago | Youth

Enzo AmueleLothario Smith, a 17-year-old learner who is currently grade 11, recently launched his first game on both Android and IOS platforms after working on...

Kenya Airways plans more pay...

21 hours ago | Economics

Kenya Airways plans further pay cuts for employees of as much as 30% after the airline was hit by the coronavirus pandemic that has caused...

Namibian economy expected to continue...

21 hours ago | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUAlthough most economies, including South Africa, rebounded in in the third quarter of 2020, Namibia’s economy remains into deeper recession.According to Indileni Nanghonga, the...

Blind loyalty is costing Namibia

21 hours ago | Opinion

Too many people confuse loyalty with blind obedience. When loyalty clouds judgement to the extent that one is ready to ignore their inner child’s voice...

Angola releases Namibians arrested for...

21 hours ago | Justice

NAMPARUNDUFour Namibians who were held at the Gciriku Post holding cells for illegally crossing into Angola have been released.Three boys and a man aged 23...

Load More