Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that have provided “huge" subsidies for “unsustainable" fishing should first take the responsibility of significantly cutting down those “harmful" support measures which are leading to overfishing, the government on Monday said. This was stated by India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO at a meeting of the NGR (negotiating group on rules) on fisheries subsidies negotiations held on November 2, 2020.
The objective of these negotiations is to discipline subsidies with the overall objective to have sustainable fishing and to curb IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing. India has also said that it is engaged in these negotiations for comprehensive disciplines on fishery subsidies. However, the members have to recognise that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) must be an integral part of these deliberations, it said.
“All of us agree that these negotiations are aimed at sustainability aspects rather than that of trade. Therefore, India believes that the concept of ‘polluter pays principle’ must be made applicable for sustainable fishing and taking forward these negotiations," according to India’s statement delivered in the meeting. It added that those who have provided huge subsidies for unsustainable fishing “should first take the responsibility in substantially reducing the huge harmful subsidies leading to overcapacity and overfishing".
In the name of unsustainable fishing, the unnecessary burden should not be imposed on developing countries and LDCs who provide minuscule or do not provide any subsidies for fishing, it said. “There is no merit in comparing millions of subsidies given in the past or being given presently for industrial fishing with minuscule subsidies of few dollars, given for sustenance of livelihood and food security to our small fishermen and women," it added.
India reiterates that asymmetries in earlier agreements such as those in the Agreement on Agriculture should not be repeated in this Agreement on Fisheries, it also said. At the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, held at Buenos Aires in Argentina in December 2017, members had agreed to continue to engage constructively in fishery subsidy negotiations, with a view to adopting an agreement by the next ministerial conference.
India wants an equitable and balanced outcome in the negotiations as the country provides support to its small and marginal fishermen who depend on the sector for sustenance.