Global CSO Open Letter to Ministers on WTO Fisheries Subsidies Negotiations

In solidarity with +60 organizations advocating for sustainable fisheries management, SID emphasizes the critical need for equity and accountability in the ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on fisheries subsidies.


The upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in February 2024 holds significant importance as negotiations on fisheries subsidies intensify. Despite the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (AFS) reached previously, the current negotiation text falls short in supporting fish stocks, marine conservation, and development efforts. Research reveals a stark inequality in subsidies allocation, with a disproportionate 80% going to large-scale industrial fishing operations, exacerbating overfishing issues.

Renewed negotiations from the Sustainable Development Goal 14.6 mandate aim to address overcapacity and overfishing but face challenges, including the failure to hold responsible parties accountable and limitations on small-scale fishers' exemptions.

The current negotiation text falls short of fully aligning with the Sustainable Development Goal mandate, presenting various inadequacies such as insufficient flexibilities for developing countries and an imbalance favoring developed nations.

Moreover, the proposed text grants disproportionate authority to the WTO in fisheries management, undermining sovereign rights and impeding conservation efforts. The negotiation process lacks inclusivity and transparency, excluding small-fisher groups and hindering meaningful participation from developing countries.

We are therefore calling on Ministers to make sure that any outcome on overfishing and overcapacity subsidies negotiations targets those who have the greatest historical responsibility for overfishing and stock depletion, excludes all small-scale fishers from any subsidy prohibitions, prevents the WTO from ruling on the validity of conservation and management measures of members, and upholds the sovereign rights of countries under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


Download the open letter here: