Marking World Ocean Day on 8 June, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, and Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, have called on WTO members to deliver a long-awaited agreement to curb funding for harmful fishing.
The opportunity to find compromise solutions at the 15 July ministerial meeting must not be squandered, they said.
“Two decades is too long for ending subsidies that finance the relentless overexploitation of our ocean. Governments need to deliver a WTO fisheries subsidies agreement now,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said.
First launched in 2001, WTO discussions on fisheries subsidies were given new impetus in 2015 when the international community made concluding a WTO agreement a target of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in 2017 reiterated the call for a fisheries subsidies agreements.
“WTO rules on fishing subsidies will help to prevent the collapse of global fish stocks. We need these rules for the sake of the environment, food security and livelihoods worldwide. It’s time to turn the tide in favour of ocean health and a globally sustainable blue economy,” the WTO boss said.
“It will take hard decisions from 164 members, but it is doable. We now have a complete negotiating text in front of us to help close the gaps,” Ambassador Wills, the chair added, referring to a new draft text he introduced last month in preparation for the virtual meeting of ministers on 15 July.