WTO Negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies: What's the state of play?

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are currently negotiating new multilateral disciplines to tackle the harmful fisheries subsidies that undermine marine resources, as well as the livelihoods and food security of populations who depend on them. A WTO deal on this issue could constitute a major step in helping steer global fisheries in a more sustainable direction, but the negotiations’ end-of-2020 deadline agreed under Target 14.6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is fast approaching.

By Alice Tipping, Tristan Irschlinger on July 14, 2020

Key Messages

  • On June 25, 2020, the Chair of WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, released a draft consolidated text to guide the final phase of negotiations.
  • The draft consolidated text reflects the state of play in the three key substantive areas in which disciplines are negotiated – (1) subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, (2) subsidies to the fishing of overfished stocks, and (3) subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity.
  • To reach an agreement on fisheries subsidies by the end of the year, WTO members will need to make a number of key decisions, which are highlighted in this update.

With only a few months left to conclude these negotiations, this update provides an overview of the draft consolidated text circulated by the Chair of WTO talks on fisheries subsidies, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, on June 25, 2020. It describes the main approaches proposed in the draft consolidated text under the different disciplines and highlights key decisions WTO Members will have to make in order to reach an agreement. The brief has been designed to provide all interested stakeholders with a short, clear summary of the state of play in WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations, and to help negotiators to seek focused input from capitals to support their engagement in the final phase of the negotiating process.