Iceland formally accepts Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, pledges CHF 500000 to Fund

Iceland deposited its instrument of acceptance for the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies on 10 May, making it the sixth WTO member to do so. Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland, who is also chair of the ongoing second wave of fisheries subsidies negotiations, highlighted the importance of the Agreement’s entry into force for ocean sustainability and for the WTO. Ambassador Gunnarsson also announced Iceland’s pledge to donate CHF 500000 to the WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism.

DG Okonjo-Iweala said: “I am delighted to welcome Iceland’s formal acceptance of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, and am grateful for Iceland’s pledge of CHF 500000 to the Fisheries Funding Mechanism. Iceland has offered the world important lessons in sustainable fish stock management through successful policy reform, making their early support for the agreement and the funding mechanism especially valuable. My gratitude also goes out to Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson for his able leadership of the WTO membership in the ongoing work to implement the Agreement and conclude the second wave of negotiations.”


Ambassador Gunnarsson said: “I am extremely pleased to be able to deposit Iceland’s instrument of acceptance of the WTO Fisheries Agreement. Iceland is a fishing nation, and for us to be able to contribute towards the success of the WTO in this regard is highly important. I am also very happy to be able to announce that Iceland is pledging CHF 500000 to the Fisheries Funding Mechanism in support of the successful implementation of the Agreement.”

Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies sets new binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.  Acceptances from two-thirds of WTO members are needed for the Agreement to come into effect.

The Agreement prohibits support for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing overfished stocks, and ends subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas. Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to making recommendations by MC13, to be held in February 2024, for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.

The full text of the Agreement can be accessed here. The list of members that have submitted their acceptance of the Agreement is available here.

Information for members on how to accept the Protocol of Amendment is available here.

WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism

Because the new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies will involve adjustments and enhancements to WTO members’ legislative and administrative frameworks, transparency and notification requirements, and fisheries management policies and practices, Article 7 of the Agreement provides for the creation of a funding mechanism to provide targeted technical assistance and capacity building to help developing and least-developed country members with implementation.

The fund is operated by the WTO with partner organizations, namely the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Bank Group, which bring to bear relevant expertise and allow the WTO to leverage its own expertise.

More information on the fund, which became operational on November 8, 2023 is available here.

About WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.