WTO publishes draft on prohibition of fishing subsidies

The World Trade Organization (WTO) published a draft text on Tuesday on the prohibition of fishing subsidies.

The text states that no WTO Member will grant or maintain subsidies for fishing or fishing-related activities with respect to an overexploited stock.

For the purposes of the article in question (Article 4), a fish stock is overexploited if it has been recognized as such by the coastal Member in whose jurisdiction the fishing takes place or by an RFMO/AROP (regional fisheries management organization or arrangement) relevant based on the best available scientific data.

Notwithstanding this, a Member may grant or maintain fisheries subsidies on those terms, if such subsidies are applied to promote the restoration of the stock to a biologically sustainable level.

“[The prohibition set out in Article 4.1 shall not apply to subsidies granted or maintained by developing country Members, including LDC Members, for low-income, resource-limited or subsistence fishing or fishing-related activities within the limit of 12 nautical miles measured from the baselines over a period of [2] years from the date of entry into force of this [Instrument].]”, says the text, with square brackets in the points without consensus.

Fishing subsidies

No Member shall grant or maintain subsidies to fishing or fishing-related activities that contribute to overcapacity or overfishing.

For the purposes of the preceding paragraph, subsidies that contribute to overcapacity or overfishing include:

  • Subsidies for the construction, acquisition, modernization, restoration or improvement of ships.
  • Subsidies for the purchase of machinery and equipment for ships (including fishing gear and motors, machinery for processing fish, technology for locating fish, refrigerators or machinery for sorting or cleaning fish).
  • The subsidies for the purchase/to cover the costs of fuel, ice or baits.
  • Subsidies to cover personnel costs, social charges or insurance.
  • Sustaining the income of ships or operators or the workers they employ.
  • The support of the prices of the caught fish.
  • Subsidies for assistance at sea.
  • Subsidies that cover operating losses of vessels or fishing or fishing-related activities.