“The new draft represents my honest and best assessment of what in my view would be a balanced outcome to these negotiations, taking into account the wide diversity of views held by members in respect of all of the issues addressed in its provisions,” the chair said in the explanatory note accompanying the text, noting that he drew upon the proposals and ideas that members explored during the past year, especially the discussions and robust collective work done during the “Fish Month” held from 15 January to 12 February 2024 in the run-up to MC13. MC13 will take place on 26-29 February in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“To assist the work at the Ministerial Conference, I have bracketed language in a few places in the new text to draw attention to issues in respect of which significant divergences in views remain. I believe ministers' attention to these areas will be particularly warranted,” the chair said, citing subsidies to distant water fishing and artisanal fishing, as well as certain figures in the text for transition periods and thresholds for special and differential treatment (SDT) for developing country members and least-developed country members.

“While this text reflects my best attempt to identify a balance that I see as most likely to build consensus, the final outcome remains in the hands of members working together,” the chair said.

The text retains a two-tiered hybrid approach regarding the main discipline for subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing, with modified criteria to differentiate the members falling into the two tiers. Members in the upper tier would be required to apply a stricter standard to demonstrate, when they provide fisheries subsidies, that they have measures in place to prevent such subsidization from harming the sustainability of the fish stocks.

Regarding special and differential treatment (SDT) for developing members  and least-developed country members, the draft introduces notable changes in the exemption for small-scale and artisanal fishing or fishing-related activities that are primarily low income, resource poor or livelihood in nature, and for the exclusion from access to SDT of certain developing members that are large fishers, either through a rule in the text, or through a voluntary binding commitment not to use SDT.  

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





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