By Ladi Jason
Federal Government on Thursday called for the exemption of small scale and artisanal fishers from the scope of the fisheries subsidies discipline under negotiation at the World Trade Organisation WTO, by member nations.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo in his submission at the one-day virtual meeting of the WTO Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) at the Ministerial Level on Fisheries Subsidies, affirmed Nigeria’s commitment and support to the agreement to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that have resulted in rapid depletion of global marine fish stocks.
He said, “I wish to assure you of Nigeria’s support and commitment to proactively engage with all Members towards achieving a balanced outcome in line with our mandate, “to conclude an agreement to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate subsidies that contribute to Illegal, Unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognising that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing countries and least developed countries should be an integral part of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation”.
The meeting was attended by the Director General of WTO, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Negotiating Group on Rules, Amb. Santiago Wills of Colombia, 164 Trade Ministers of the WTO members and ambassadors, including Nigeria’s ambassador to WTO, Dr A. M. Abdulhamid.
Adebayo also said Nigeria would be happy to negotiate on appropriate special and differential treatment provisions for developing countries and least developed countries.
He stressed that the sustainable development of the fisheries sector would be a viable route to member states socioeconomic development given the sector contribution to food and livelihood security improvement.
However, he noted that illegal fishing, overfishing and overcapacity, as well as other unsustainable fishing and fishing related activities incentivized by heavy subsidization poses threat to the ongoing efforts towards sustainable development of the sector.
“These unsustainable practices have resulted in rapid depletion of global marine fish stocks,” he said.
He added, “After 20 years of negotiations, I believe it is time for us to draw the curtain on the Fisheries Subsidies Negotiations. Nigeria would continue to support you Madam DG and show requisite flexibilities so we can collectively achieve balanced outcomes consistent with SDG 14.6 and our mandate.
The Minister told the gathering that Nigeria believed that the progress that we have made so far, as contained in the revised Draft Consolidated Text of 30th June 2021, “provides a good basis that could take us to a successful conclusion; and we are happy to work on that basis while ensuring that the mandate of the negotiation is substantively achieved in a balanced manner.”
He assured the WTO DG that in view of the technicalities involved in the fisheries subsidies negotiations, as well as the urgency to expeditiously make progress, “Nigeria’s participation would, from now on, also involve engagement by senior officials from my Ministry and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.”