Small-scale fishers to be hit as WTO to ban fisheries subsidies in 2 years


New Delhi: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has decided to put a stop to fisheries subsidies by governments after two years. The decision at the WTO ministerial conference held in Geneva may badly hit the small-scale fisher folks in the country. 

India’s demand to continue the fisheries subsidies for the small-scale fishermen, for another 25 years, was rejected. The decision to ban the government subsidies is to curb Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, depleting fish stocks to unsustainable levels and degrading the marine resources by overfishing.

Earlier discussions were around restricting all fisheries subsidies to the fishermen who go only up to 12 nautical miles and that too for another 2 years. However, the final decision was to limit the subsidies to the fishers fishing within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) up to 200 nautical miles for the next two years. The only consideration India received was the change in the distance limit.

The fisheries subsidies decision is applicable to all countries without differences on whether it is a developed, a developing or an underdeveloped country. Neither was the scale of fishing, whether small scale or large scale, taken into consideration.

The agreement would be nullified only if comprehensive terms are not brought forward within the next four years. Nevertheless, it is being weighed up that the developed countries which took the initiative to curb the subsidies may not let such a situation arise.

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