NEGOTIATIONS ON FISHERIES SUBSIDIES
Prior to the Fish Week, members received five proposals: from Norway; China; Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu; Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay; and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. During the week, members further received an additional proposal, from Fiji.
During the Fish Week, which included small group meetings and two plenary meetings for the whole membership, members had the opportunity to hear proponents explain their proposals. They were also able to raise questions and provide comments, particularly for the first five proposals. Many members remarked that it was encouraging to receive a range of proposals to help address the impasse members faced in MC12 on the issue of subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing.
“I had noted that after the conceptual deliberations in the first two Fish Weeks, we need to move toward building a single basis for our text-based work in the fall. I think we have made significant strides toward this goal this week,” the chair said at the closing meeting. “This is a great start toward the aim of developing the elements for a single text to use as the starting point of our text-based negotiations in the fall,” he said.
Several members also reported on progress in their domestic procedures to formally accept the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, which was adopted in MC12. Acceptances from two-thirds of WTO members are needed for the Agreement to come into effect. The list of members that have submitted their acceptance of the Agreement is available here.
Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard said: “The work this week brings us closer to text-based negotiations, which is what we're all aiming for so that we can reach an agreement by MC13. I also want to thank the members who announced today that they are about to deposit their instruments of acceptance. This is remarkable progress.”
For the next Fish Week to be held in the week of 10 July, members will discuss the proposals in more depth, and additional proposals are also welcome, the chair said.
For the work programme in the autumn, the chair intends to organize four Fish Weeks in the weeks starting 18 September, 9 October, 6 November and 4 December. The chair said the goal is to complete work on the second wave of fisheries subsidies negotiations by the General Council meeting in December so that members can focus on cleaning up the text of a new agreement between then and MC13.