WTO disagrees with unhealthy support for fishing

Director-General, World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Fisheries Subsidies Negotiations Chair, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, appealed to WTO members on Wednesday to get ready to make tough decisions and prepare for a ministerial meeting in July in an effort to provide an arrangement that will curtail unsafe state support for fishing.

During an unofficial inclusive meeting of heads of delegation level, Okonjo-Iweala reiterated the prelude to the WTO agreement and the order of these dialogues.

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She said, “People, jobs, sustainability, livelihoods; these are the words that jump out at me from the preamble every time.

“To me, our job is to protect the fish and to protect the many millions of fishermen and women who directly depend on the fish. These two are not mutually exclusive; protecting one does not necessarily compete with protecting the other.

“In fact, fishing sustainably makes socio-economic sense. If there are no more fish in the sea, then the source of food security and livelihood that was so talked about in the Marrakesh preamble, of those who depend on the fish also will be gone.

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“I say all of this to remind us, as we engage over these next few months, of why we are here, doing this particular work. If we present to ministers a text that meets that overall objective, then we will have done our job.

“On the other hand, if the focus over the next few months is to find ways to exclude ourselves from these responsibilities, then we will not be able to deliver on our mandate. And that is not really an option. Ladies and gentlemen, it is not.”

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