Fishery subsidy: New WTO text tilted in favour of developed nations


The WTO has been negotiating about the changes in fishing subsidies to reduce overfishing. Instead, it has angered many countries including, India.

Since 2001 the WTO has been looking to negotiate rules to curb fisheries subsidies that threaten marine life.

In 2005 the members agreed on a mandate. In 2015 members met again to discuss and finalize the draft. This draft will be discussed at the 2021 ministerial conference.

But developing nations like India are not satisfied by the terms laid down in the draft.

The primary thorn in the bush is that it offers many concessions for advanced fishing nations, who are responsible for depletion in global fish stock and preserve their dole out status.

The developing nations do not practice distant sea fishing and are the victims of advanced nations overfishing. But, according to the new draft, they have to commit more to it.

That too in the time where the sector is recovering from the pandemic ensued crisis.

The other factor that makes people oppose it is that there is no appropriate time frame for transition.

The chair of the negotiating group on rules, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, has laid down the revised draft for clause-by-clause negotiations on Monday in the presence of delegates. The aim is to make it as clean as possible, collectively.

The move to end subsidies to fishers immediately or in a short time will be opposed by Indians and other developing nations.

At the same time, India favours a 25-year exemption from the ban of overfishing subsidy for developing countries, which do not engage in distant-sea fishing.

India also suggests that these big subsidizers abolish their dole-outs for fishing beyond their sea limits within these 25 years so that developing nations can follow suit.

It is based on the idea that these exploiters should take greater responsibility in solving this problem.

In the terms of received subsidies, India annually gets a subsidiary of ₹770-1,000 crore granted on fuel and boats.

At the same time, the big subsidiaries or the advanced fishing nations receive more than that from the globally distributed $14 billion to $54 billion per annum.

India is on its way to boosting its presence in the global trade platform, and its stand with the developing nations on this issue will increase its strength.

India also stands for developing and protecting the fishing community and sector within the developing nations, which are reeling under crisis, climate change and corruption.

India wants an agreement that creates a balanced distribution of subsidies.

This will replace the former system where developing nations get a smaller share, while the advanced nations get a lavishly huge share, which the present draft seems not to guarantee.

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