October 2019

Eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies in the WTO

QUNO hosted several meetings in 2019 on the negotiations at the WTO on the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies, and specifically on reflecting in those negotiations the interests of the approximately 90 million people whose livelihoods depend on small-scale fisheries. Apparently, 1 billion people depend on fish as their main source of protein (largely in developing countries). 

This process could deliver important lessons for future negotiations, for example on the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels - which would reduce pollution, cut GHG emissions by 20%, and improve social equity.

In two lunches that we hosted in 2019, a range of development- related issues was discussed. In September, we hosted a lunch with the WTO, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and a few key countries and NGOs that support an agreement. The question we asked to participants was: “What is my role in working towards a fair and sustainable agreement on fisheries subsidies this year and up to MC12?” Participants gave a range of options for ways forward and stressed the urgency on finalizing the negotiations within the next few months.

In October 2019, we hosted a follow-up lunch with 4 developed and 4 developing countries. The question for discussion was: “What are my specific needs in moving forward in the talks on fisheries subsidies next week as a step towards an agreement?” It turned out that while some governments see sustainable management of fish stocks as a sufficient solution, others think that more needs to be done and that we should eliminate certain subsidies that lead to overfishing and overcapacity.

QUNO will continue to follow these negotiations as they draw to a conclusion.

Related Areas of Work