Negotiators hope the WTO can deal a blow to overfishing and reaffirm itself because it has not reached a major trade deal in years.
Negotiators hope that on Thursday the World Trade Organization will give a big blow to overfishing after 20 years of trying, but in doing so will also dispel doubts about its usefulness.
The global trade watchdog, which is debating how its 164 members should resolve disputes, has not reached a major trade deal in years, and analysts say it needs to land this year to maintain credibility.
The reward may be a significant reduction in fishing subsidies, which is often said to be the most important factor in depleting fish stocks in the world.
The WTO has said it is “on the verge” of an agreement; Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the ministerial meeting, which was almost over, “should start us on the path to an agreement” with the intention of closing the deal.
Some representatives are more privately skeptical, saying that there is still room for the distribution of subsidies between wealthy members like the European Union on the one hand and India’s developing countries on the other.
“Many members believe that higher subsidies should lead to greater reductions in subsidies, given the global impact of fishing, both current and many developing countries should have different rules for them,” said Alice Tipping International Institute. For Sustainable Development.
The secret proposal made by African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in May by Reuters reports that it seeks exceptions for members who account for less than 2.5% of the global catch – others say it undermines the whole deal.
Although China is the largest contributor, countries around the world and trade blocs, including the EU and Japan, account for only 21 percent of $ 35.4 million, according to a 2019 study by university academics. and institutes in Canada, China and the United States.
Meanwhile, sustainable fish stocks have fallen from 90% of the 1990 total to 66% in 2017, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Researchers in the United States, Canada, and Australia in 2018 found that fishing a lot in international waters in the “open sea” would not be profitable without a state handbook.
“In the waters of the countries where the fleets come out, the stocks are destroyed, so they have to go somewhere else and compete with each other,” said Daniel Pauly, a fisheries biologist at the University of British Columbia in Canada, who expressed particular concern about tuna. “This is the race below.”
Tipping says the WTO is closer than ever to the agreement – but a draft text still has 84 seats when there is no agreement.
Negotiators say China could help by rejecting anti-subsidy attitudes on the high seas, and the EU could also rule out anti-fuel subsidies.
Some even want to move to Washington, abandoning the proposal to reduce forced labor – another saving measure that encourages overfishing.
“This is the last chance for a deal,” said Remi Parmentier of Friends of Ocean Action. “If not, there is an existential crisis in the WTO.”