India, Brazil accused of blocking progress at WTO talks with "radical positions"

Europêche Managing Director Daniel Voces
Europêche Managing Director Daniel Voces | Photo courtesy of Industrias Pesqueras
2 Min

“Radical positions” taken by a number of countries, including India and Brazil, are endangering the prospects of a World Trade Organization deal on curbing subsidies that lead to overfishing and overcapacity in national fleets, according to Daniel Voces, the managing director of E.U. fishing representative body Europêche.

“Already in 2017, India sabotaged WTO negotiations,” Voces told SeafoodSource, referencing India’s opposition to an agreement put forth at the 11th Ministerial Conference in December 2017. “Back then, India blocked everything, even a possible agreement on the elimination of subsidies that drive illegal fishing.”

According to Voces, as a member of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), India also objected to “fundamental resolutions” at the IOTC’s most recent meeting, namely resolutions 13/02 on maintaining vessel records, 13/03 on recording catch and effort data, 13/06 on shark conservation, 13/07 on licensed foreign vessels record-keeping, and resolutions 19/01 and 21/01 on a rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna.

“Currently, the same country is advocating for WTO members to implement a 25-year moratorium on subsidies granted by distant-water fishing nations for fishing activities beyond their exclusive economic zones,” Voces said.

Several developing nations, as well as numerous marine-focused NGOs, are asking for payments made by the European Union, China, and other distant-water fishing powers for fishing quotas or permissions to be counted as subsidies in any new accord.

Voces said “certain South Pacific countries” and Brazil are now “taking advantage of the situation” and criticizing E.U. fisheries agreements with third countries.

“We reiterate that E.U. sustainable fisheries partnership agreements (SFPA) cannot be considered subsidies because they involve mutual agreements between the E.U. and third countries to ensure sustainable fishing practices and promote responsible fisheries management,” Voces said. “SFPAs are designed to comply with international trade rules, including those of the World Trade Organization. As such, they are transparent, nondiscriminatory, and based on principles of sustainable development and equitable sharing of resources.”

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