Pact to end harmful fish subsidies difficult without special and differential treatment: India

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New Delhi: India on Monday said that concluding global negotiations to end harmful fisheries subsidies “would be difficult without special and differential treatment for developing countries who need it”. Arguing that the focus should be on distant water and large-scale industrial fishing, India told the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the talks should seek greater contribution from those who provide large subsidies, both in value and on per capita basis while providing exemption for the needs of small and subsistence fishermen.

The carve outs need to be fishermen who operate in the territorial seas and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which is the boundary of sea zone extending up to 200 nautical miles from the shore, India said at an informal meeting of heads of delegation.

New Delhi’s statement comes in the wake of the multilateral trade body likely to consolidate views of member countries on the latest draft text on fisheries subsidies to be followed by full-fledged negotiations in September with the aim of finalising the pact by the end of December 2020.

WTO members are negotiating to finalise disciplines to eliminate subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.

The negotiations have made progress with draft texts emerging in respect of IUU and overfished stocks. However, in overfishing and overcapacity, several approaches are being discussed.

“We also need to quickly converge the various approaches for Overfishing and Overcapacity on the table and start negotiating on the consolidated text covering all pillars,” India said.

As per India’s proposal on the issue, a developing country is not eligible for the exemption if its GNI per capita crosses $5,000 for three consecutive years, has above 2% share in global marine capture, and the share of agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors is less than 10% of its GDP. It should also be engaging in distant water fishing.

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