Ministry of Commerce & Industry

WTO negotiation session on Fisheries Subsidies held at ongoing Abu Dhabi Ministerial Conference-13


India reiterates that responsible and sustainable fisheries is a practice ingrained in ethos and practices of India’s large and varied fishing community

Posted On: 27 FEB 2024 8:06PM by PIB Delhi

The WTO negotiation session on Fisheries Subsidies took place in the morning of 27 February in the ongoing Abu Dhabi Ministerial Conference-13.

In these negotiations, India reiterated its long-held positions that responsible and sustainable fisheries is a practice ingrained in the ethos and practices of India’s large and varied fishing community. In that context, any comprehensive agreement on Fisheries subsidies should keep in mind the interests and welfare of the fishing community that depends on the marine resources for their livelihood and sustenance.

India stressed that historically, while subsidies to the fisheries sector has led to over exploitation, subsidies are also vital for developing countries and small economies to develop and diversify their fisheries sector as well as to protect the food security and livelihood security of their fishermen. This negotiation is linked to the concept of sustainability and as such, any comprehensive agreement on fisheries subsidies should be built on the principles of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR- RC). It should also incorporate the provisions of Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) appropriately, as is the case for all WTO agreements.

At the same time, for such an agreement to be effective and forceful in advancing the sustainability objectives, there is an urgent case for capturing non-specific fuel subsidies and transfer of fishing rights to corporate fishing under Government to Government (G2G) payments within the ambit of the disciplines. Equally important is the need to discipline subsidies given by the Distant Water Fishing Nations as proposed by India in document RD/TN/RL/175. 

India urged the Members to introduce a moratorium on subsidies by Distant Water Fishing Nations for fishing or fishing related activities beyond their EEZs for a period of at least 25 years. India said that the Members should not lose sight of the harmful effects of subsidies for large-scale fishing on sustainable fishing and management of marine resources.

India explained that the current approaches for addressing Over Capacity and Over Fishing (OCOF) is deeply flawed. Since the Members had agreed to using the affirmative determination approach for negotiating disciplines on the Overfished Pillar, there was no reason why the Members should not use the same approach in relation to the OCOF Pillar. In addition, the current approach of considering the annual aggregate value of subsidies grossly overlooked the intensity of subsidies, and other factors such as the size of the EEZ, long coastal line, population of small fishers and the per capita subsidies to fisher men. 

India reiterated that the sovereign rights of Members for sustainable management of fisheries within their EEZs as provided under the UNCLOS should be duly recognized and protected. 

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