On 13 June, ICTSD organised an informal roundtable aimed at examining means to advance Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.6 through fisheries subsidies disciplines in the WTO ahead of the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires and beyond, with particular attention paid to subsidies and overfished stocks. This dialogue was organised as part of the E15 Initiative engagement process initiated in 2016 alongside the negotiations to address knowledge gaps arising from the talks.
Several recent proposals on fisheries subsidies tabled in the WTO Rules Negotiating Group include the idea of prohibiting subsidies that have a negative effect on stocks that are already overfished. Discussions on the idea have led to a range of questions related to the potential scope of such a prohibition, how overfished stocks would be identified and how such a prohibition would be applied.
This roundtable sought to build convergence by providing a neutral space for informal dialogue among leading WTO negotiators and selected fisheries experts on the specific challenges under discussion. Issues covered included the current information available at a global level on the state of fish stocks, the role of national and regional bodies in assessing fish stocks, and how the disciplines could address specific challenges like data-poor fisheries and by-catch in fisheries.
The meeting followed on from the E15 Engagement Day on the WTO and MC11, held on 26 September 2016, as part of a series of dialogues to be organised over the course of the year to delve further into selected topics as they evolve.