The EU approved Thursday the conclusion of a World Trade Organization protocol establishing a fisheries subsidies agreement, the first WTO agreement that focuses on environmental sustainability. The WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.6 (UN SDG) and includes:

a strong prohibition of subsidies contributing to illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing with unprecedented transparency provisions.
an absolute prohibition of subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas.
a provision on overfished stocks will bring sustainability rules for subsidies regarding the most vulnerable stocks in the first phase of the agreement.

Consensus was reached on the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June 2022. The WTO Conference adopted the Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization by inserting the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, into the Marrakech Agreement after the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.

The Agreement includes substantial limitations on subsidising unsustainable fishing, notably:

  • prohibition of subsidies to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing
  • prohibition of subsidies for fishing outside of the jurisdiction of a coastal State and outside the competence of a relevant regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO/A) to protect the most vulnerable areas lacking established and coordinated fisheries management regime
  • prohibition of subsidies to fishing regarding overfished stocks conditional on sustainability standards to rebuild such stocks to healthy level
    disciplines regarding subsidies benefitting vessels not flying the flag of the subsidising Member
  • extensive transparency and notification provisions to monitor the implementation of the Agreement

The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies will enter into force once two-thirds of WTO members have completed their domestic ratification processes. WTO 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.

Source: EUbusiness

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