“Fisheries Subsidiaries Agreement Expected to Impact 260 Million People Globally” – Justice Minister

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Dawda A. Jallow on Tuesday, 5 December told the National Assembly that the World Trade Organization Agreement on Fisheries Subsidiaries Agreement, when implemented, is expected to have an impact on 260 million people globally.

He said this while laying the agreement before the lawmakers for scrutiny, consideration and ratification.

“This agreement, when implemented, is expected to exhibit a positive impact for 260 Million people around the world who depend on marine fisheries for their livelihoods,” he explained.

According to him, the agreement creates a powerful new weapon in the global fight by prohibiting subsidies to fishing over fish stock.

The agreement, he said, represents a historic achievement for the WTO members as it serves as the first sustainable development goal target to be fully met, the first SDG target met through a multilateral agreement, the WTO agreement to focus on the environment, the first broad binding and multilateral agreement on an ocean sustainability, and the only second agreement reached at the WTO since its inception.

He said: “It sets new rules to curb harmful subsidies and protect global fish stock in a manner that also recognizes the need of fishers in the developing and least developed countries. The new disciplines will have an important positive effect on the sustainability of marine fish stock and fisheries by curbing subsidies to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing.”

Minister Jallow explained that under the agreement, members would take special care and exercise with due restraint when granting subsidies to vessels not flying their flag and not granting subsidies to fishing and fishing related activities regarding stock, where remaining levels are unknown.

He said, “Furthermore, the agreement contains provision on notification and transparency, under which every member is required to provide the information relevant to the implementation of the agreement. This information includes the type and kind of fishing activity for which the subsidy is provided and to the extent possible the status of fish stock in question.”

He added that it also includes information on the catch data, fisheries management measures, information on vessels benefitting from the subsidies and list of vessels and operators it has determined to have engaged in the IUU Fishing.

He reported that special and differential treatment, a peace clause applies to developing members and least developed countries on which dispute settlements will not apply two years from the date of entry into force of the agreement for subsidies, contributing to IUU Fishing, as well as the subsidies regarding over fish stock that are provided for fishing within exclusive economic zones.

“In addition, members are required to exercise due restraint in raising matters involving an LDC member. Developing members with a share of the global fish catch of not more than 0.8 percent and least developed countries may provide notification of fisheries related information every four years instead of every two years,” he told the plenary.

He said with respect to Technical assistance and capacity building, as per the agreement is to be provided to least developed and developing countries through which the agreement provides for the establishment of a voluntary fisheries funding mechanism.

The Gambian lawmakers subsequently ratified the agreement, stating that it is an important agreement that will help in protecting the Gambia’s marine line and will also help address the problems of illegal and irregular fishing activities on the country’s waters.