Almost 80 countries including Sri Lanka, Kenya, Cuba and Nigeria have backed India’s proposal to safeguard the rights of small fishers to ensure that they continue to get subsidies for purchasing boats, nets and fuel.
India has sought a longer transition period to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as members of the World Trade Organization negotiate a pact to limit harmful fishery subsidies by the end of 2019. These provisions are part of the special and differential treatment (S&DT) that developing countries and least developed countries get in the WTO. They have been challenged by developed countries, which have proposed country-specific caps on fish subsidies.
“We have sought effective S&DT, as per the mandate of the sustainable development goals. We have reiterated this even as certain developed countries such as the US, Australia and New Zealand are trying to deviate from this,” said an official aware of the details. India’s proposal, which talks of special provisions for developing countries including a longer time period to curb overfishing, has found favour with Morocco, Sri Lanka and the group of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
In a recent paper to the WTO, China suggested deriving a global average per fisher that would be used to arrive at country-specific subsidy limits, which would be higher for countries with large populations. However, India is opposed to the capping approach.