The European Union has formally accepted the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies on behalf of its 27 Member States. The EU’s acceptance brings the Agreement closer to entry into force and to delivering on Target 14.6 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
The Agreement will enter into force once two-thirds of the 164 WTO members have completed their domestic ratification processes. The EU’s acceptance (counting for the 27 Member States) brings the number of WTO Members who had accepted the Agreement to 34.
The WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, the first multilateral trade agreement focussing on sustainability, was concluded at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) in June 2022 and includes a prohibition of government subsidies to IUU fishing, a prohibition of subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas, a prohibition of subsidies regarding the most vulnerable stocks. It also has provisions addressing the harmful practice of reflagging fishing vessels to other jurisdictions, and advocates extensive transparency and notification provisions to monitor the implementation of the Agreement.
‘The EU played a pivotal role in spearheading this landmark WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, which will turn the tide on harmful practices such as illegal fishing,’ said Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade.
‘I am very proud that we are among the first to accept the first ever multilateral trade agreement to focus on sustainability, which will help to restore fish stocks across the world. It is proof that the WTO can deliver solutions for today’s sustainability challenges and that, as we proceed with WTO reform, it provides a good basis from which to tackle other global challenges.’