WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies are now entering the final stage. After two decades of dialogue, trade ministers from 164 countries are resolved to secure an agreement ahead of the ministerial conference of 15 July this year. The European fishing industry represented by Europêche fully sustains the need to curb harmful subsidies globally, similarly to what has been done in the EU in the early 2000’s. In this direction, the fishing sector calls on EU institutions and Member states to defend the public aid system established under EU legislation, including the newly adopted Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFAF). Likewise, the sector urges the EU not to succumb to external pressure and defend fuel tax relief schemes. The opposite will drive the fleet to ruin.
The European Commission has unveiled today its proposal for an EU Biodiversity strategy calling for urgent action to protect nature in the EU and worldwide. The strategy claims to set up a full transformative plan towards an EU environmentally-friendly food production system that preserves and restores biodiversity. Europêche agrees that the EU must be ambitious in setting high environmental standards but not at the cost of increasing imports and lowering EU food production. EU fishermen oppose the new strategy since it is discriminatory, undermines the viability of the sector by decreasing its productivity and capacity to invest in improving social and environmental performance, further restricting the sustainable use of the oceans, subjecting fish products to additional taxation and making fisheries the target of discrediting campaigns.
As part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been given a prominent role to regulate and discipline global fisheries subsidies. The main goal is to eliminate IUU1 subsidies and prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing by 2020. In order to speed up the complex intergovernmental negotiations, a High Level Event on Trade, Climate Change and Oceans Economy took place in Geneva this week, where Europêche presented the huge progress made in Europe, to eliminate harmful subsidies and secure the sustainable and responsible management of fisheries resources.