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India to resist interim ban on fisheries sops

12 Dec 2017

India will resist any interim prohibition on fisheries subsidies at the World Trade Organization's ongoing eleventh ministerial summit here, as the country feels time is not ripe to suddenly cut support to its fish workers, said an official aware of the development. 

Instead, the country is likely to push for a solution that can be implemented after two years when the twelfth ministerial conference (MC12) takes place, the person said. 

"We are resisting any interim solution in fisheries and would like an outcome after MC12 as the time is not ripe for an outcome now," the official said. 

As per the first draft of the ministerial declaration on fisheries that has been circulated, countries have been asked to eliminate certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, besides those which contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, by 2020. 

It also proposes an agreement on comprehensive and effective disciplines on prohibiting fish subsidies by the next ministerial conference in 2019. 

A second official privy to the details said, "The solution is interim in the sense that the prohibitions (on fisheries subsidies) will have to come in place by a certain time but their contours would be decided later." 

The draft ministerial decision on fisheries is the first such declaration in the ongoing MC11 from December 10-13. 

The 164 members of the World Trade Organization are divided over the kind of prohibitions to be put in place for the fish subsidies and some are pushing for an interim solution instead. 

The first draft of the chairman's text, which has come from Geneva, prohibits countries from subsidising their fish workers in up to 200 nautical miles from the shore called the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 

It allows developing and least developed countries (LDCs) to notify the World Trade Organization till December 31, 2020 if they don't have capacity to cut such sops immediately. 

However, India's demand to give fuel subsidies to its fishing vessels in the exclusive economic zone is still a matter of negotiation. 

"There is no mention of fuel subsidies because that is still being discussed. So what is the hurry in having an interim solution?" said the official quoted first. 

Developed countries have been asked to make "best efforts" to refrain from introducing new, or extending or enhancing existing, subsidies that contribute to overfishing or overcapacity. "This could be a slippery slope for India as we might have to bring rules to not allow fishing at a time when fish reproduce," said an expert. 

Source: Economic Times

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