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The European Union has officially accepted, on behalf of its 27 Member States, the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. Photo: Cepeasca

The European Union today officially accepted, on behalf of its 27 Member States, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies

It is the first multilateral trade agreement with a focus on sustainability and was concluded at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June 2022.

The European Commission claims that Fisheries Subsidies Agreement is essential to ensure that fisheries subsidies have sustainability as their primary objective and avoid harming the oceans and fish stocks on which coastal communities around the world depend.

The acceptance by the EU is an important step towards the entry into force of the agreement and the achievement of target 14.6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, states the Commission.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, said: “I am very proud that we are among the first to accept the first-ever multilateral trade agreement to focus on sustainability. It is proof that the WTO can provide solutions to today’s sustainability challenges and that, as we reform the WTO, it provides a good basis for addressing other global challenges.”

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, added: “The agreement is an essential step to ensure that fisheries subsidies, not only in the EU, but also in the world worldwide, have sustainability as their primary objective. This will help preserve fish stocks essential to global food security and the livelihoods of coastal communities.”

The Agreement will enter into force once two-thirds of the 164 WTO members have completed their domestic ratification processes. The EU’s acceptance (counting for the 27 Member States) brings the number of WTO Members who had accepted the Agreement to 34.

The WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, the first multilateral trade agreement focussing on sustainability, was concluded at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) in June 2022 and includes:

  • a prohibition of government subsidies to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing;
  • a prohibition of subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas;
  • a prohibition of subsidies regarding the most vulnerable stocks;
  • provisions addressing the harmful practice of reflagging fishing vessels to other jurisdictions; and
  • extensive transparency and notification provisions to monitor the implementation of the Agreement.

Source: Press Release

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