DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala receives letter from environmental groups seeking global deal on fishing subsidies

Representatives of nearly 200 environmental organizations on 16 May presented a letter for WTO members to Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, which called for governments around the world to swiftly conclude a global agreement to phase out harmful fisheries subsidies. The letter was submitted ahead of a crucial negotiating week in the run-up to the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12).

“The negotiations are at a very critical juncture, as we are just four weeks away from our 12th Ministerial Conference. This is the moment our members cannot afford to miss,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said after receiving the letter addressed to the full WTO membership.

“I therefore welcome your letter and your hard work in support of a successful conclusion of the negotiations,” she said. “Your call is an encouragement to deliver on UN SDG 14.6 and the tangible contribution the trading system can make to stop overfishing and help protecting marine life. The fish and the people that live from fish will be very happy.”

According to the Australia-based Minderoo foundation, nearly half of global marine fish stocks that have been scientifically assessed are overfished – with nearly a tenth on the verge of collapse. Moreover, half of the global fish catch comes from stocks for which there is no data to assess sustainability. Researchers estimate that the livelihoods of 260 million people depend directly or indirectly on marine fisheries.

The letter was presented by officials from Friends of Ocean Action, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

WTO members on 16-20 May will hold intensive negotiations aimed at resolving remaining issues for a global deal to curb harmful fishing subsidies ahead of MC12, which will be held on 12-15 June in Geneva.

Under the mandate from the previous Ministerial Conference and the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6, negotiators have been given the task of securing agreement on disciplines to eliminate subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, with special and differential treatment being an integral part of the negotiations.

Source & photo : WTO