TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul17/12)
17 July 2017
Third World Network
EU, Indonesia table revised proposals on fisheries subsidies
Published in SUNS #8503 dated 17 July 2017
Geneva, 14 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- Both the European Union and Indonesia have
introduced their revised proposals on fisheries subsidies at an informal
meeting of the WTO Negotiating Group on Rules on Thursday.
According to trade officials, the revised proposals are expected to be
discussed in depth at a later meeting of the Rules Group on 17-18 July, as the
meeting on Thursday (13 July) was meant only for the introduction of these two
The revised textual proposal introduced by the European Union
(TN/RL/GEN/181/Rev. 1), now includes the addition of a transition period during
which all members are allowed to grant or maintain subsidies that increase
fishing capacity, but with a condition attached.
The provision states: "1.2 The Parties may grant or maintain subsidies set
out in Article 1.1 during a transitional period of [X] years following the
entry into force of this Agreement, provided that the vessel benefiting from
the subsidy does not target fish stocks that are in an overfished
Article 1.1 in the textual proposal states as follows:
"1.1 The Parties shall not grant or maintain any of the following
"(a) subsidies that increase the marine fishing capacity of a fishing
vessel or support the acquisition of equipment that increases the ability of a
fishing vessel to find fish;
"(b) subsidies that support the construction of fishing vessels or the
importation of fishing vessels; and
"(c) subsidies for the transfer of fishing vessels to other countries
including through the creation of joint ventures with partners of those
At the informal meeting on Thursday, the EU said this revision responds to
requests by the developed members for time to adjust their fleets and for
developing countries to prepare their fish stock assessments.
The revised proposal also now includes a provision that bans subsidies that
contribute to over-fishing.
The relevant provision in the revised proposal states: "In addition to the
subsidies prohibited under Article 1.1, the Parties shall not grant or maintain
any subsidies for fishing outside the territorial sea that negatively affect
targeted fish stocks that are in an overfished condition."
According to trade officials, the EU maintained that it was never opposed to
such a rule and that it was instead considering the level of precision needed
for implementing it.
Furthermore, the EU said that this new provision on over-fishing includes an
exemption for subsidies granted to fishing activities within a member's
The EU explained that this refers to the belt of coastal waters that extends at
most to 12 nautical miles from the baseline of the coastal state.
The proposal further includes an Annex that sets out an illustrative list of
subsidies that in the EU's view, do not negatively affect targeted fish stocks
that are in an over-fished condition.
Annex I of the revised EU proposal states as follows:
"ILLUSTRATIVE LIST OF SUBSIDIES THAT DO NOT NEGATIVELY AFFECT TARGETED
FISH STOCKS THAT ARE IN AN OVERFISHED CONDITION
"(a) subsidies that improve fishery management systems and thus promote
sustainable fisheries including subsidies for research and development
"(b) subsidies that improve hygiene, health, safety and working conditions
"(c) subsidies aiming at improving the concerned Party's capacity to fight
against IUU [Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated] fishing;
"(d) subsidies for permanent cessation of fishing activities provided that
the fishers concerned effectively cease all fishing activities within a
reasonable time-frame after receiving the subsidy concerned."
A further addition in the EU's revised proposal are some notification
requirements relating to conservation and management measures amongst others.
Article 3 in the revised proposal states as follows:
"3.1 The Parties shall notify, in accordance with the provisions of
Article XVI: 1 of GATT 1994 and Article 25 of the Agreement on Subsidies and
Countervailing Measures, subsidies that support, directly or indirectly, marine
"3.2. In addition to the information set out in Article 25.3 of the Agreement
on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the following must be included in the
"(a) programme name;
"(b) legal basis and granting authority for the programme;
"(c) level of support provided;
"(d) type or kind of marine fishing activity supported by the programme;
"(e) in the case of developing and least developed countries, for any of
the subsidies under Article 1.1, information whether the Party concerned makes
use of the flexibilities provided for in Articles 4.1 and 4.2.
"3.3 The Parties shall also endeavour to include the following in the
"(a) the status of the fish stock targeted by the vessel benefiting from
the subsidy (for example, over-exploited, depleted, fully exploited,
"(b) any conservation and management measures applied to the fish stock
targeted by the vessel benefiting from the subsidy; and
"(c) any fishing capacity management plan applied to the fleet to which
the vessels benefiting from the subsidy belong."
Indonesia also introduced its own revised proposal (TN/RL/GEN/189/Rev. 1) that
was circulated on 13 July.
According to trade officials, the revised proposal mainly aims to clarify
Indonesia's intention to treat artisanal fishing, small-scale fishing, and
fishing within EEZs (exclusive economic zones) and high-seas quotas as three
separate instances where prohibitions on subsidies would be exempt.
In its revised proposal on proposed disciplines on prohibitions and special and
differential treatment for fisheries subsidies, Indonesia said that it has
revised the proposal which focuses primarily on making it simpler in providing
clearer disciplines on the prohibition and the special and differential
Indonesia highlighted that prohibition on subsidy related to IUU fishing has
been rearranged to clarify that subsidies contributing to IUU fishing must not
be tolerated, given such activities have great detrimental effects on all
aspects, namely economic and social.
Indonesia underlined its priority in undertaking efforts to combat IUU fishing.
Indonesia has been revitalizing the ocean as an economic driver through
fisheries policy reform.
In addition, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia has enacted several
regulations, inter alia, prohibition of destructive fishing gear, minimum size
of captured fish, as well as formulation of fisheries management plan for 11
fisheries management areas and harvest strategy.
At the informal meeting, Indonesia said its revised proposal remained focused
on prohibiting fishery subsidies that contribute to overcapacity, overfishing
and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Indonesia said it was also still using the positive list approach in the
prohibition, i. e. only those subsidies listed would be banned.
Meanwhile, Norway introduced a short textual proposal (TN/RL/GEN/191) on
discipline and prohibition on subsidies to IUU fishing.
Norway proposed that Members shall ensure that their subsidies programs that
give support to fishing and fishing related activities include the requirement
to check that the vessels are not IUU-vessels.
This requirement includes checking the owners or operators controlling the
operation of the fishing vessels.
Norway noted that RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organisations) have
their own procedures for both including and eliminating vessels on their lists.
Regarding the requirement to check information from relevant coastal states,
Norway has suggested a limit of five years on how far back authorities need to check.
Its textual proposal states:
"No Member shall grant or maintain subsidies of any kind to vessels,
owners or operators engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
"To this end, before a Member grants a subsidy, it shall ensure that the
fishing vessel neither appears on an IUU- vessel list of a Regional Fisheries
Management Organization nor that the fishing vessel has operated in waters
under the jurisdiction of any Member without the permission of that Member
during the preceding five years."
At the informal meeting, Norway said that its intention was to have an
agreement that was as enforceable, simple and practical as possible.
Norway said it was especially concerned with illegal fishing that vessels
undertake outside of their flag state's territory. It said that this issue was
not reflected in other proposals.
According to trade officials, Senegal, for the Least Developed Countries
(LDCs), and Dominica, for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group, said
they hope to submit their own textual proposals by next week.
The Latin American group (Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and
Uruguay), which has already submitted its own textual proposal, said that its
members were still deciding whether to submit a revision.
At the informal meeting, the EU expressed its desire to have a common text that
compiles existing proposals as the basis for negotiations starting in the
According to trade officials, the EU said that it would like the WTO
secretariat to undertake compilation work taking into consideration existing
textual proposals sent in before the next meeting of the Rules Group on 17 and
18 July. It noted the time left before the 11th Ministerial Conference in
Buenos Aires in December.
It said that this request was not meant to preclude additional proposals from
other members coming in at a later date.
The EU explained that such a compilation document, which it would like to have
by 26 July, could be taken by delegates to their respective capitals during the
summer break for review before negotiations resume in the autumn.
The chair of the Negotiating Group on Rules, Ambassador Wayne McCook of
Jamaica, said that this is a matter that could be decided (at the Rules Group
meeting) on 18 July. +