Global Statistics

All countries
695,683,142
Confirmed
Updated on September 23, 2023 3:43 am
All countries
627,005,533
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Updated on September 23, 2023 3:43 am
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6,919,210
Deaths
Updated on September 23, 2023 3:43 am

Global Statistics

All countries
695,683,142
Confirmed
Updated on September 23, 2023 3:43 am
All countries
627,005,533
Recovered
Updated on September 23, 2023 3:43 am
All countries
6,919,210
Deaths
Updated on September 23, 2023 3:43 am
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Civil society, trade experts urge India not to ratify WTO’s agreement on fisheries subsidies

Trade experts and some members of civil society have urged India not to ratify the fisheries subsidies agreement agreed upon by the World Trade Organisation members in Geneva last year and instead commence talks for a comprehensive pact.Members of the Geneva-based WTO on June 17, 2022, secured a ‘Geneva Package’ which included agreements on curbing harmful fishing subsidies and temporary patent waivers for the production of COVID-19 vaccines.

The fisheries agreement finalised would prohibit developed countries, engaged in distant water fishing, not to provide subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. However, the countries have to negotiate about the other issues of the agreement which include overfishing and overcapacity.

“We urge the government not to ratify this unequal agreement. Instead, the government should begin talks on the comprehensive agreement which is already mandated about disciplines for industrial fishing nations under Article 5 pertaining to overcapacity and overfishing,” according to a letter sent by certain members of civil society, trade unions and NGOs to Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

Acceptance from two-thirds of WTO members is needed to bring the agreement into effect. So far, over 10 countries have ratified. India has not yet ratified the pact. There are 164 members.

“We assert that there is still time for India and other developing countries to unite to ensure that the agreement does not come into effect,” the letter said alleging that developed countries have large industrial fishing fleets and have consistently pushed their agenda to increase market access¬† in the developing world.

“A vast majority of the billions of dollars of fisheries subsidies across countries are provided to industrial fishing and only a minority to small-scale fishing. Historically, it is industrial fishing, in particular in Europe and North America, that is responsible for the current crisis such as depleting resources from overfishing,” it added.

The developing countries have been asking for restrictions on large industrial fleets of developed countries but these have continued unabated, it said.

“Developing countries such as India have been asking for disciplines on non-specific fuel subsidies (these are not specific to the fishing sector but general fuel subsidies). These are rampantly used by the developed countries to subsidise their fishing fleets. However, this demand was also rejected in the negotiations,” it added.

Further it said that if one compares the figures of total subsidies and per fisher subsidies, there is a huge difference between developed and developing countries and the WTO agreement does not acknowledge this fact.

It also suggested the government follow a more targeted approach to support small-scale sustainable categories of fishing activity.

The signatories of the letter include the National Fishworkers Forum, National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers, All India Fishers and Fisheries Workers’ Federation, All India Union of Forest Working People, Biswajit Dhar, Distinguished Professor, Council for Social Development, Delhi; Bharat Patel, General Secretary, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Samiti (MASS), Gujarat; and Kamala Menon from Delhi Science Forum.

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