Developing nations call out hypocrisy in WTO talks on cutting fishing subsidies
Several fisheries experts in developing countries have described what they see as the hypocrisy of industrialized countries demanding developing nations cut subsidies to their fisheries at ongoing World Trade Organization talks.
Azim Premji University Visiting Professor John Kurien, an expert in small-scale fisheries who supports a more-expansive WTO deal on fisheries subsidies, said countries with large fleets bear a particular historical responsibility for depletion of stocks.
“The fisheries and fishing communities in developed, industrial countries have all been highly subsidized for decades,” Kurien told SeafoodSource. ”The present demands on developing countries to reduce subsidies is totally unjust and a hypocrisy.”
Inequality is a central grievance shared by fishery representatives and researchers from developing countries watching the talks, according to Alassane Dieng, the head of Groupement des Armateurs et Industriels de la Pêche au Sénégal (GAIPES), a Senegalese body representing artisanal fishermen.
“This deal is being done in the image of what’s happening with climate change where those who are most responsible suffer the least consequences,” Dieng said.
Last year’s deal prohibited illegal fishing and fishing on overfished or unregulated stocks, but failed to include text limiting subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. Dieng said the 2021 WTO deal is “the least-constraining for countries with the large fleets who are historically responsible for the decline of stocks worldwide by transferring their overcapacity to less advanced countries.”
Throughout the negotiations, developing countries have insisted artisanal fisheries, which they consider central to economic and food security, are not limited.
Francis K E Nunoo, a professor of fisheries science at the University of Ghana, said awareness about the WTO fishery negotiations remains patchy in the developing world. Several West African nations, including Cameroon and Ghana, are preoccupied by rampant illegal fishing by foreign vessels in their domestic waters, as well as their effort to address issues raised by the European Union that have resulted in yellow card warnings that threaten their E.U. seafood exports.
“The nation has made great gains in reducing [illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing] through ministerial directives to reduce fishing efforts and transshipment at sea.”
Ghana is grappling with “inadequate enforcement of regulations,” said Nunoo. He said there has been little engagement by stakeholders to explain the issues at stake in the WTO deal and ongoing talks on expanding it....
Photo courtesy of Dakshin