The chair on 21 December circulated the latest draft text, drawing from members' proposals and deliberations. Members then had the opportunity at the 15 January meeting to provide their initial reactions to the text. Members will have meetings in various configurations from 15 January to 9 February to go through the whole text ahead of the 14 February target for transmitting a clean text to ministers.   

“I made my best effort to create a basis for our work that could enable us to prepare our ministers for success in the time that remains. With our meeting today, we are launching the Fish Month, during which our goal is to find convergence on the issues in front of us, with a view to providing ministers with a clean text to consider at MC13,” the chair said.

“I am happy to note that all members and group coordinators that took the floor indicated that they are willing to use this text as the basis for our discussions over the next few weeks, while I of course recognize members' various requests for further refinements of the text. Members' interventions today were useful in pointing to key issues on which we will need to focus in our work going forward,” he said.

The draft text can be accessed here. The chair's explanatory note is available here.

Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard added: “We must make this Fish Month count. The world is expecting us to deliver on this very important file. There are a few intense weeks ahead, but all of our hard work here will mean less intensity and unpredictability in Abu Dhabi if we are successful here.”

“In addition to delivering the second wave of negotiations, we hope that the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies will enter into force by MC13 as well. We know that many members are working hard to deposit their instruments before MC13,” DDG Ellard said.

Adopted by consensus at the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, 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. Fifty-five WTO members have formally accepted the Agreement — this is 50% of what is needed for the Agreement to come into effect (two-thirds of the WTO membership).  The list of members that have deposited their instruments of acceptance of the Agreement is available here. Information for members on how to accept the Protocol of Amendment is available here.

Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to making recommendations by MC13 for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.




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