Negotiations on fisheries subsidies
WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies were launched in 2001 at the Doha Ministerial Conference, with a mandate to “clarify and improve” existing WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies. That mandate was elaborated in 2005 at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, including with a call for prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.
At the 2017 Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference (MC11), ministers decided on a work programme to conclude the negotiations by aiming to adopt, at the 2019 Ministerial Conference, an agreement on fisheries subsidies which delivers on Sustainable Development Goal 14.6
Buenos Aires Ministerial Decision, 2017
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.6
SDG 14.6, part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015, affirms the WTO's role in the global fisheries subsidies agenda.
SDG 14.6 targets to “by 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing, and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation.”
At the 11th Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires last December 2017, WTO members agreed to continue to engage constructively in the negotiations, with a view to adopting an agreement by the Ministerial Conference in 2019. When members then decided the next Ministerial Conference would be held in early June 2020 in Nur-Sultan, it was on the basis of the understanding that the 2019 deadline in the Buenos Aires Decision on Fisheries Subsidies would be upheld.
After MC11, the Negotiating Group on Rules completed the streamlining of their negotiating texts into a single document and held technical sessions on a range of issues before the Group. The Negotiating Group also completed the Incubator Group brainstorming process, where smaller groups of WTO members worked on a total of 18 topics. All of these activities were aimed at developing inputs and paving the way for the resumed full negotiations in 2019.
For January to July 2019, the Group has agreed on a work programme of meetings which culminated in the endorsement of four working papers reflecting various positions members have on issues. Members also endorsed a schedule of meetings for September to December 2019. Summaries of these meetings are available here.
- The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018, FAO
- The Sunken Billions Revisited, World Bank
- Relative Effects of Fisheries Support Policies, OECD
- Fisheries Support Estimate Database, OECD
International instruments related to fisheries
- Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
- FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
- Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks
- FAO International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
- Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
- FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Flag State Performance
- FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries
- Declaration Concerning the Prevention of Unregulated High Seas Fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean
- FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Catch Documentation Schemes