WTO: NEGOTIATIONS ON FISHERIES SUBSIDIES: Fisheries subsidies chair opens fourth “Fish Week” to help distil elements for negotiation

The chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland, on July 10, 2023, opened the fourth of a series of “Fish Weeks” with the aim of seeking WTO members’ views on what elements from the various documents before members, including new proposals, would form the best basis for text-based discussions in the fall. Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard acknowledged the progress made but also affirmed the need to deepen discussions at this last Fish Week before the WTO’s August break.

Fisheries subsidies chair opens fourth “Fish Week” to help distil elements for negotiation


At the previous Fish Week held in June, numerous members and groups presented proposals for the second wave of fisheries subsidies negotiations, which is mainly focused on curbing subsidies that contribute  to overcapacity and overfishing. Members are seeking to conclude an agreement at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) scheduled for February 2024.

“Concerning our objective for our work this week, I suggest that we explore in as much detail as possible how we might best distil all that we have in front of us at this point in time,” the Chair said. “For this week, I would request that delegations aim to build on the very encouraging preliminary discussions in the June fish week by bringing specific views and concrete ideas on what elements from the various proposals and the W/20 and W/5 texts they think would form the best basis for our text-based discussions in the fall.”

DDG Ellard added: “Now is the right time to deepen the discussions and identify elements and approaches for the starting point of text-based negotiations in the fall. I encourage all members to continue your constructive engagement as we work toward finding common ground on the outstanding issues.” Here full remarks are available here.

Ahead of the meeting, the chair provided a table summarizing approaches contained in various texts and proposals to help members explore commonalities. Following the opening of the fourth Fish Week, small group meetings will be held and will culminate with a closing session at the end of the week that will bring together heads of WTO member delegations.

A separate meeting will be held on July19, 2023, for members to discuss technical work related to the operation of the future Committee on Fisheries Subsidies. The Committee will come into existence when the Agreement enters into force, which will be achieved when two-thirds of WTO members have deposited their instruments of acceptance.

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