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Seychelles Accepts Fishing Subsidies Agreement; First African WTO Member to do so

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CEM REPORT, TRADE | Seychelles has become the third WTO member and the first African country to formerly accept the WTO’s Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies after its trade attaché Lucille Veronique Brutus deposited the country’s instrument of acceptance on 10 March after Switzerland and Singapore.

While Switzerland delivered its instrument of acceptance on 20 January, Singapore followed suite on 10 February 2023.

Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: “I am delighted and proud to welcome Seychelles’ ratification of the WTO’s Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies — the first African country to do so. Healthier seas and oceans are vital for the prosperity and resilience of Seychelles’ fisheries and tourism industries. Seychelles’ formal acceptance also signals the importance of the Agreement to Africa. I am hopeful this will pave the way for others in the region to follow suit.”

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Seychelles’ Minister for Fisheries, Mr Jean-François Ferrari, and the Minister for Finance, National Planning and Trade, Mr Naadir Hassan, said in a joint statement: “The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies presents a significant opportunity for Seychelles to promote sustainable fishing practices, protect its marine resources, and to aid in the conservation of fish stocks globally, especially within the African region.

“By depositing its Instrument of Acceptance, Seychelles reinforces its commitment to multilateralism and ensuring that concrete steps are taken towards limiting harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing as set out in Target 14.6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals whilst empowering and supporting coastal communities as they transition towards truly sustainable practices.”

“Through this significant step, we are hopeful that our country’s vision within the fisheries sector to develop fisheries to its full potential whilst safeguarding the marine environment and resource base for sustainability can be further realised to ensure the long-term viability of Seychelles’ fishing-industry in a participative and co-management approach to preserve its unique biodiversity.

“Seychelles thus calls on its neighbours within the African region, as well as its other WTO counterparts, to submit their Instruments of Acceptance in a bid to continue the global efforts in the conservation of the long-term health of oceans for future generations,” the ministers said.

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Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies sets new binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.  In addition, 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 obligations.

The Agreement prohibits support for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing overfished stocks, and ends subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas. Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to making recommendations by MC13 for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.

Credit: WTO

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