Against the backdrop of the ongoing fisheries subsidies negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), 43 signatories have called on the Indian Government to not formally accept the June 2022 WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.
Signatories include National Fishworkers Union (NFF), National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (NPSSFW) and All India Fishers and Fisheries Workers’ Federation (AIFFWF), All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Friends of the Earth -India. Networks such as the All India Peoples Science Network (AIPSN) and research groups including TWN Trust India and Focus on the Global South-India have also endorsed the call.
The letter argues that the agreement is biased towards the interests of developed countries and allows their subsidies to large industrial fleets to continue while attacking the ability of developing countries to develop public policies to support their fisher populations.
In June 2022, an Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies was concluded at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva.
There have been submissions to the Government of India appealing not to sign the Agreement (for instance, letter from NFF to Commerce Minister on June 10 calling for India not to sign the agreement: https://focusweb.org/proposed-wto-agreement-on-fisheries-is-against-the-interests-of-india-and-fishing-communities/
One year later, as of June 30, 2023, only 11 out of 164 WTO member countries have formally accepted the agreement. India is under pressure from the WTO Secretariat and developed countries to accept the Agreement. The fisheries agreement will come into force only when two-thirds of the WTO membership formally accepts the protocol of the Agreement. While a comprehensive agreement with additional provisions under Article 5 (overcapacity and overfishing) is supposed to be negotiated over the next four years, the provisions of the current Agreement are expected to be in effect once countries formally accept the Agreement.
Read the letter: