DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL ANGELA ELLARD
DDG Ellard noted that, by concluding the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, WTO members have delivered on UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6 — the first of the SDG targets achieved, as well as the first achieved through a binding multilateral agreement. She underlined the Agreement’s significance in reflecting the consensus of all 164 members of the organization.
DDG Ellard noted that the next step is to promptly ensure the Agreement's entry into force, ideally within a year. She explained that two thirds of WTO members must deposit their instruments of acceptance for this to occur. She called on government representatives and policy makers to finalize their domestic acceptance procedures as soon as possible.
DDG Ellard elaborated on the significance of the Agreement, noting that it prohibits subsidies for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as well as subsidies for fishing overfished stocks and fishing in the unregulated high seas. These disciplines are particularly important given that about 50 per cent of assessed stocks are already overfished and deteriorating further.
DDG Ellard also highlighted the Agreement’s innovative transparency and notification requirements, which will deliver new data to evaluate the nature and effect of subsidies and the impact of fisheries management. Transparency will also give WTO members a strong basis to consider whether improvements should be made to the disciplines, she added.
DDG Ellard also stressed the importance of the new fish trust fund, which will provide targeted assistance to developing and least developed country members so that they can implement the Agreement and improve fisheries management. She noted that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization will be a partner, contributing broad technical expertise and long experience in sustainable fisheries management.
She also called on members to promptly begin the second wave of negotiations in line with the Ministerial Decision of 17 June and build on disciplines of the Agreement.
Finally, DDG Ellard observed that the conclusion of the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement creates positive momentum for other environmental initiatives at the WTO, such as the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD), the Informal Dialogue on Plastic Pollution, and Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform. She also said it could incentivize members to work on lowering tariffs and barriers on environmental goods and services, and to develop common approaches to carbon prices in order to tackle climate change.
Full recording of the discussion is available here.