by PIF Deputy Secretary General Esala Nayasi
PACIFIC REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON WTO FISHERIES SUBSIDIES
Thursday, 28-29 September 2023 at 10am
Pacific Trade, Fisheries and Legal Officials of Pacific WTO Members;
Pacific Oceans Commissioner, Dr Filimon Manoni;
Representatives of Regional Fisheries Agencies – FFA, SPC, PNAO, WCPFC; and
On behalf of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, I am pleased to welcome you all to the Secretariat and to the Pacific Regional Workshop on Fisheries Subsidies, that will be held over the next two days. This workshop responds to the call by the Forum Trade Ministers during their special Meeting in Nadi in November last year, where they discussed the post-MC12 priorities for the Pacific. The Pacific Trade Ministers specifically requested that the Secretariat assist Pacific WTO Members to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the implications of implementing the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement adopted at the WTO Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) in June 2022.
2. The objective of the Workshop is therefore to present to the Pacific WTO Members the draft Assessment undertaken to consider the implications of accepting the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (FSA). The Workshop will also provide an opportunity to update Pacific Officials on the state of play of the second wave of the WTO Fisheries Subsidies negotiations. Officials will also consider the Pacific WTO Members’ preparations for the second wave of negotiations.
3. The Pacific with the ACP Group played an influential role in the conclusion of the FSA and in the mandate to continue negotiations on overcapacity and overfishing. Realising that the Agreement to be adopted at MC12 was not going to be comprehensive due to the lack of political will to conclude disciplines on the overcapacity and overfishing (OCOF) pillar, the Pacific with ACP made sure that negotiations would continue after MC12 as reflected in paragraph 4 of the MC12 Decision.
4. Subsidies to the fishing sector has contributed to IUU fishing, to fishing of stocks that are overfished and to excessive fishing in the high seas. This Agreement can be an additional tool in combating IUU fishing, fishing of overfished stocks and fishing in the high seas. IUU remains a significant challenge for our region, as confirmed by the FFA report of 2021 which valued the catch from IUU fishing for 2017 to 2019 as USD 330 million. In line with our strong and effective fisheries management system, Members should discourage any subsidies that support fishing of stocks that we have declared overfished. In our region, given the migratory nature of our commercial tuna fishery, the prohibition of subsidies to the high seas is welcomed as it also applies in the high seas pockets in the region.
5. Excellencies and Senior Officials, the FSA is very strongly connected to the aspirations and vision which our Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have articulated through the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent under the Oceans pillar. Focusing on harnessing opportunities arising from the blue economy and protecting the health of our ocean and fisheries resources is central to achieving the objectives of the 2050 Strategy.
6. You may be aware there is a call by the WTO Director General to have two-thirds of ratifications by MC13 so that the Ministerial outcome on Fisheries Subsidies expected at MC13 could be complemented by the entry into force of the first phase of the FSA. In the end, the purpose of the assessment to be presented today is to inform Pacific WTO Members of the key implications of the FSA so as to assist in their decision to ratify the Agreement. Of course, the decision to ratify obviously rests with individual Members.
7. To conclude, I wish to thank you all for availing your time to attend this important workshop. I also thank the representatives of the regional fisheries organizations for their ongoing technical support during the negotiations. I would also like to recognize the Government of Canada for their generous financial support. Finally, I acknowledge with appreciation Ms Alice Tipping who is here with us today and her team at IISD, as well as our PIFS Geneva Office and PIFS Trade Team for their commitment and support in producing a well-balanced assessment that will be considered by Pacific Officials today.
8. With these few words, I wish you all the best for the next two days of deliberations. Thank you.–ENDS
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