• Harmful fisheries subsidies damage fish populations, undermine the economic viability of small-scale producers and jeopardize the livelihoods and food security of coastal communities.
  • WTO negotiations for regulations on fishing subsidies began in 2001, and are intended to incorporate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • These harmful subsidies fund the construction of new fishing vessels or reduce the cost of fuel, for example. They increase fishing capacity by reducing costs, which heightens the risk of overfishing. This limits our ability to sustainably manage our fisheries.
  • International rules on fisheries subsidies would be a significant step towards rebuilding an abundant ocean.
  • The negotiations propose three categories of prohibited subsidies, those that support illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing (Article 3.1); affect overfished stocks (Article 4.1); or lead to overcapacity and overfishing (Article 5.1).
  • We need all three articles to achieve sustainable fisheries globally.
  • However, adherence to new rules must be monitored and enforced, particularly as subsidies are highly complex and their reporting often vague or green-washed. Future battles will revolve around issues of transparent reporting and the measured effectiveness of the agreement. 
  • What is important is that the WTO is able to reach consensus and we can take an important step - no matter how small - towards rebuilding fish populations.
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