The first African nation to formally accept the WTO fishing subsidies agreement, Seychelles deposited its instrument of acceptance for the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies on 10th March. Acceptances from two-thirds of WTO members are needed for the Agreement to come into effect.
‘I am delighted and proud to welcome Seychelles’ ratification of the WTO’s Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies – the first African country to do so. Healthier seas and oceans are vital for the prosperity and resilience of Seychelles’ fisheries and tourism industries. Seychelles’ formal acceptance also signals the importance of the Agreement to Africa. I am hopeful this will pave the way for others in the region to follow suit,’ said WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
According to a statement issued by Seychelles’ Minister for Fisheries Jean-François Ferrari and Minister for Finance, National Planning and Trade Naadir Hassan, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies presents a significant opportunity for Seychelles to promote sustainable fishing practices, protect its marine resources, and to aid in the conservation of fish stocks globally, especially within the African region.
‘By depositing its Instrument of Acceptance, Seychelles reinforces its commitment to multilateralism and ensuring that concrete steps are taken towards limiting harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing as set out in Target 14.6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals while empowering and supporting coastal communities as they transition towards truly sustainable practices,’ the ministers state.
‘Through this significant step, we are hopeful that our country’s vision within the fisheries sector to develop fisheries to its full potential whilst safeguarding the marine environment and resource base for sustainability can be further realised to ensure the long-term viability of Seychelles’ fishing-industry in a participative and co-management approach to preserve its unique biodiversity. Seychelles thus calls on its neighbours within the African region, as well as its other WTO counterparts, to submit their Instruments of Acceptance in a bid to continue the global efforts in the conservation of the long-term health of oceans for future generations.’
Seychelles’ trade attaché Lucille Veronique Brutus submitted her government’s instrument of acceptance to DG Okonjo-Iweala.
Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva on 12-17th June 2022, 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 for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.
The Agreement recognises the needs of developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) and establishes a Fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the obligations.