El Examen Global de la Ayuda para el Comercio destaca la necesidad de fortalecer el impulso mundial en favor de la pesca sostenible

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El 27 de junio, en un acto del Examen Global de la Ayuda para el Comercio, los oradores afirmaron que el creciente nivel de asistencia al desarrollo destinada a promover la pesca sostenible en las economías en desarrollo, entre otras cosas mediante la aplicación del Acuerdo sobre Subvenciones a la Pesca de la OMC, demuestra el fortalecimiento del compromiso mundial de proteger los océanos del planeta y reforzar la seguridad alimentaria. Durante el acto también se presentó un nuevo informe de la Secretaría de la OMC y se subrayó la necesidad de aumentar los desembolsos financieros para abordar plenamente los desafíos relacionados con la pesca a nivel mundial y garantizar la sanidad y la productividad pesqueras a largo plazo.

 

 

«As you know, the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, once in force, will prohibit certain forms of harmful fisheries subsidies. It will serve as a powerful tool for contributing to the sustainability of these precious resources. It can also contribute to ensuring food security for the many millions of people who rely on these resources for their livelihood globally,» WTO Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard said at the event.

«We all understand that the new disciplines introduce a set of requirements that might pose technical and resource challenges for developing members and least-developed country (LDC) members. There is wide recognition that these challenges could be addressed through targeted technical assistance and capacity-building, including through the new WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism as well as other sources of development finance,» she said, drawing attention to the new WTO Secretariat report on official development assistance (ODA) directed towards the fisheries sector, titled «Leveraging Global Partnerships to Implement the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies for a Sustainable and Food-Secure Future

The report finds that between 2010 and 2022, USD 6.2 billion was committed to support marine fisheries.  Of that total, 71% (USD 4.4 billion) was assistance directed at supporting the design and implementation of sustainable fisheries policies and practices in developing economies and LDCs.

The report also highlights the growth since 2018 of funding for fisheries projects incorporating food security and nutrition as central objectives, demonstrating the sector’s vital role in global food systems. Disbursements to fisheries projects focused on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) totalled USD 540.5 million between 2018 and 2022, growing by an annual average of 93% over this period.

As a complement to ongoing assistance, and as provided for by the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, the WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism Trust Fund has been established to assist developing members and LDC members with implementing the Agreement. Numerous WTO members have made significant contributions to the Fish Fund, which to date has received contributions totalling more than CHF 12 million. Additional public pledges have been made amounting to a further CHF 2 million. The Fish Fund is now in the set-up phase, to become fully operational as soon as the Agreement is in force, DDG Ellard said.

However, despite positive trends, the report notes that annual ODA for fisheries is dwarfed by the estimated USD 22 billion spent globally on harmful fisheries subsidies – a 63-fold difference.

«What a game changer it would be for the ocean and fish stocks if we were able to turn harmful fisheries subsidies into support for sustainable fisheries,» DDG Ellard said.

The report is timely given the approaching entry into force of the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, a landmark agreement aimed at curbing harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing. Seventy-seven WTO members have formally accepted the Agreement. Thirty-three more formal acceptances are needed for the Agreement to come into effect. The Agreement will enter into force upon acceptance by two-thirds of the membership.

«I want to thank all of the members who have already deposited their instruments for showing such leadership in doing so. You can see from the list of those who have deposited their instruments that these are from a broad range of members from every region and at every level of economic development,» DDG Ellard added.

Benin has just completed its domestic processes and will deposit its instrument of formal acceptance of the Agreement in the coming days, Ambassador Angelo Dan announced. He added that the Agreement is closely linked to Benin’s national concerns as a coastal state that relies on sustainable fisheries for food security. Benin intends to strengthen its monitoring of fisheries resources to fully implement the Agreement and welcomes technical assistance provisions in the Agreement, he said.

Ambassador Petter Ølberg of Norway, one of the largest donor countries in the fisheries sector, said the sector can contribute more than it does today if governments are better supported in their fisheries management. Norway’s assistance includes support for stock assessments, fisheries management and enforcement, and combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, he said. «You need information, you need capacity building, and we are providing just that.»

Audun Lem, Deputy Director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Division of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), pointed to forthcoming enhancements in the FAO’s fisheries assessment methodology that will provide more detail and will be better aligned to the interests of countries. «Why this is important is because, in order to manage your stocks sustainably and to get the maximum yield and benefits out of your aquatic resources, you need data,» he said.

Valerie Hickey, Global Director for Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy at the World Bank, said: «We’re never going to have a world without poverty in a world without healthy fish stocks.» The World Bank, which is the second largest financier of sustainable fisheries, is channelling funding towards policy reform, institutional strengthening, and harnessing private and philanthropic finance, she said.

Call to WTO members

At the opening of the Aid for Trade Global Review on 26 June, WTO members’ efforts to curb fisheries subsidies were also underscored. Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs Kerrie D. Symmonds delivered a statement emphasizing the importance of the entry into force of the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies («Fish 1») and concluding the second wave of negotiations for additional provisions to enhance the Agreement («Fish 2»).

He emphasized the importance of these efforts for protecting ocean health and fisherfolk livelihoods. He furthermore drew attention to a communiqué circulated by 34 WTO members affirming their support for the Agreement’s entry into force and conclusion of negotiations on additional provisions this summer.

«We are using the platform of this Aid for Trade Global Review to amplify the message of our unfinished business and for formulating this statement. We must use the next few weeks to deliver Fish 2 and to operationalize Fish 1,» Minister Symmonds said.

More information on the WTO work on fisheries subsidies and the WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism is available here.