Dominica formally accepts Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies at WTO

Dominica’s Acting High Commission Janet Charles (left) presents the Instrument of Agreement to WTO’s Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Dominica has deposited its instruments of acceptance of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies at the World Trade Organization (WTO) at a ceremony on February 14, 2024, in Geneva.

The agreement, signed by the Honourable Dr. Vince Henderson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business, Trade, and Energy, aims to curb harmful fisheries subsidies. The presentation was made to the Director-General of the WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala by Dominica’s Acting High Commissioner, Janet Charles.

“Dominica is pleased to deposit its instrument of ratification of the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement,” Charles said during the presentation.

“The Agreement signifies the high level of priority that the WTO and its members place on addressing the sustainability of our oceans.”

The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies was adopted at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) on 17 June 2022.

According to the organization, it “marks a major step forward for ocean sustainability by prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.”

It establishes a set of binding prohibitions and rules that seek to ensure that the support provided by governments to their fishing sector does not undermine the sustainability of marine resources. Prohibitions include giving subsidies that enable (1) illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, (2) fishing of overfished stocks, or (3) fishing of unmanaged stocks on the high seas.

The agreement still needs two-thirds of WTO members to formally accept it before it can take effect. It comes at a critical time since according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2022 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture Report (also known as the SOFIA report), 35% of fish stocks worldwide are exploited beyond sustainable levels.

Experts have also pointed out that governments around the world are paying $22 billion a year in subsidies that drive overfishing.

Acting High Commissioner Charles said Dominica accepting the agreement is a major step towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.6.

“Dominica is the Nature Island of the Caribbean, and we pride ourselves on being a country that is in harmony with the environment,” she stated.

“We believe in preserving both land and marine resources, for future generations. So, for us, this agreement is an
extension of our desire to secure our marine space from unsustainable fisheries, which are usually supported by subsidies.”

At the ceremony on February 14, Barbados, Senegal, and Uruguay joined Dominica in formally accepting the agreement and Okonjo-Iweala said she was delighted that it was growing forward.

“This growing momentum is encouraging as we call on remaining WTO members to follow suit so that this milestone Agreement can enter into force as quickly as possible and start delivering its benefits for the health of our ocean, and for the long-term livelihoods of the 260 million people who depend on marine fisheries,” she said.

“I am also grateful to these four Members for their constructive participation in the ongoing second wave of negotiations on fisheries subsidies.”

So far 34 members of the WTO have accepted the agreement.

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  1. Mabouya
    February 17, 2024

    You have to be an activist to see part these people who finally have the gull to place an African at the helm of WTO when such was prohibited before. These people have no idea what the signing. The devil is in the details. She does not know that the whole aim of the WTO is to keep her and the African continent poor and unable to feed themselves. But, she will get something out of it to appease her and her klan. .. useless AID. Lol lol a joke dat.

  2. Gwendolyn Carter
    February 16, 2024

    Awesome Dominica and Minister Henderson I genuinely have high respect for this “Signing”
    May the health of Dominica’s Pristine Ocean be protected by all of us taking part in Ocean Conservation.
    your’s Truly,
    Gwen Carter

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