European fisheries organisations have called on the WTO to take action in regards to subsidies and detaxation. Photo: Michael McBride

Europêche, Cogeca, EAPO and ETF, with the support of AIPCE-CEP, have called on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to adopt an international instrument to prohibit subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

In their letter the group says that IUU fishing is often linked with labour and human rights’ abuses, along with overfishing and overcapacity.

Their letter continue “First of all, the fishing industry is against any direct aid for fuel purchase. Subsidies linked to fuel price levels or engine power of the vessel (e.g. China), certainly distort international fish markets, create unfair competition between operators and lead to overcapacity.

“However, public authorities should apply a different yardstick to de-taxation schemes. The sector endorses the European Commission position which states that “the Agreement should not apply to subsidies for aquaculture and to fuel de-taxation schemes, or to subsidies compensating for damage caused by natural disasters”. 

The letter also talks about energy products supplied for use as fuel for the purposes of navigation, commercial fishing and aviation have been historically exempted from taxation to ensure an international level playing field. 

“Both the maritime and aviation industries have been increasing their capacity, and therefore their Greenhouse Gas emissions, and for that reason carbon taxes have been proposed as a mitigation tool However, the international community is looking at fishing from a different angle. In an attempt to justify the elimination of fuel de-taxation schemes for  fishing, certain countries and civil society groups claim that these schemes have contributed to overcapacity and overfishing which have ultimately led to a global collapse of fish stocks. 

“However, it should be reminded that according to FAO the majority of the global fisheries (67%) are currently sustainable. In the case of the EU, year after  year more fish stocks are fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) and in the North-East Atlantic biomass levels are 36% higher than in 2003. In addition, despite the enlargements of the EU, the number of EU vessels in 2018 was 81,644 compared to 103,834 in1996, meaning 22,000 fishing vessels less in 20 years . Only 65,400 vessels remain active and the majority are below 12-metres length.”

The full letter can be read here.



Joint Industry Letter calls for WTO action on fishery subsidies

by editor time to read: 6 min