“I call on all members, and in particular all Heads of Delegation, to prioritize the fisheries subsidies negotiations over the coming months, and to remain flexible and available as and when needed,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said, underlining that progress this week in exchanges among members at this high level is especially critical to reaching an outcome by the middle of the year.   “Please keep the date of July in mind as when we need to finally close these negotiations,”" she added.

“Concluding these negotiations is a top priority for this organization, not only for the fisheries, but also for the WTO system. We simply cannot afford to fail here,” she said. “We have reached a considerable degree of maturity in the negotiations and we should do what it takes to close it.” Read the full text of her statement here.

The chair of the negotiating group, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, is convening a cluster of fisheries subsidies meetings on 12-16 April at the level of heads of delegation with an aim to unlock key issues in the negotiations. Small group meetings will be held on the issues of subsistence/artisanal/small-scale fishing; due process requirements for determinations of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; and the approach for identifying and prohibiting subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing.

“The views I hear from you, heads of delegations, are extremely helpful in finding a path forward that we could not find at the technical level,” the chair said. “We consider that conducting these meetings at this level is very important for our ability to make the needed progress.”

Under the mandate from the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference and the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6, negotiators have been given the task of securing agreement on disciplines to eliminate subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, with special and differential treatment being an integral part of the negotiations.




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