Friday, April 19, 2024
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Fiji ratifies WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies

Fiji is the first Pacific Island Country to ratify the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (AFS).

Fiji stands with 43 other trade partners, including New Zealand, the United States, EU, Japan, and Singapore, who have taken the lead in ratifying the agreement so far.

For the Agreement to enter into force, two-thirds of WTO members must formally accept the Protocol of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies by depositing an “instrument of acceptance” with the WTO.

After more than two decades of arduous negotiations, the WTO members successfully concluded the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies during the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June 2022.

This Agreement is a monumental step towards promoting sustainable and responsible fishing practices, safeguarding our oceans, and ensuring equitable access to marine resources.

The AFS represents the first WTO agreement that places environmental sustainability at its core.

The treaty established the first global, legally binding framework that limits subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and fishing of overfished stocks, as well as subsidies to vessels fishing on the unregulated high seas.

The agreement also calls for countries to exercise “due restraint” in providing subsidies to vessels that do not fly their country’s flag or those that fish stocks with unknown status.

This landmark agreement comes at a crucial time when 35 per cent of fish stocks globally are being exploited beyond sustainable levels, posing serious threats to our oceans and marine ecosystems.

By curbing subsidies that support overfishing, Fiji takes a significant step towards conserving its fisheries resources for current and future generations.

Furthermore, as part of the Agreement, Trade Ministers committed to continue negotiations on outstanding issues that were not agreed to when concluding the AFS.

These continuing negotiations, dubbed “the second wave” will address flexibilities of developing and least developed countries, their rights under UNCLOS and more importantly overfishing and overcapacity in well managed oceans, like the Pacific.

The WTO members aim to conclude these negotiations by the 13th Ministerial Conference in February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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