Switzerland is first WTO member to formally accept new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies

Source: The post is based on the articleSwitzerland is first WTO member to formally accept new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidiespublished in WTO on 23rd January 2023

What is the News?

Switzerland has become the first WTO member to formally submit its acceptance of the WTO’s new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.

What is the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies?

WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies was adopted at the 12th Ministerial Conference(MC12) in 2022.

The agreement marks a major step forward for ocean sustainability by prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.

It is the first WTO agreement to focus on the environment, the first broad, binding, multilateral agreement on ocean sustainability and only the second agreement reached at the WTO since its inception.

Acceptance of 2/3rd of WTO members is needed for the agreement to come into effect.

What are the key provisions of the agreement?

The Agreement prohibits subsidies to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and bans subsidies for fishing overfished stocks and for fishing on the unregulated high seas. 

Developing Countries and Least Developed Countries(LDCs) have been allowed a transition period of two years from the date of entry into force of this Agreement.

The agreement recognizes 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 Agreement.

Exemptions: No prohibition has been imposed on a WTO Member regarding granting or maintaining subsidy to its vessel or operator as long as it is not carrying out IUU. 

– Similarly, no prohibition on providing subsidies has been imposed for fishing regarding overfished stocks as long as such subsidies are implemented to rebuild the stock to a biologically sustainable level.

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