The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is urging Ghana to speedily ratify the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.
The WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, which includes an agreement to curb Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing on the continent marks a major step to end widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala made the proposal when she met with the Minister, Trade & Industry, K. T. Hammond, as part of her maiden African tour.
“We need to stop illegal fishing and overfishing in our waters. We have managed to get this agreement, but for it to take hold, it has to be ratified by two-thirds of WTO’s members. We have 44 African countries. If we don’t get them to ratify, we will never get the two-thirds. So, I wanted to get Your Excellency’s President Akufo-Addo’s support. If we can get Ghana to ratify and the ECOWAS countries to do the same, it will be very helpful,” she said.
She further noted that the second thing that the fisheries subsidy agreement will introduce when it comes into force is that it will require fisherfolk to “be transparent about their fisheries numbers and anyone who catches and reports this illegal and unreported fishing can bring them to the WTO tribunal” to seek justice.
“We need 109 members to ratify. The good news is that the first to ratify was Switzerland and [everybody joked] that it is a landlocked country, so it has no fish to fry, so to say. But then Singapore ratified, and the first African country to ratify was the Seychelles.”
“What shocked us was three weeks ago, when the US called me [to say] that they were trying to ratify. No one believed it because they have not been as rapid,” she added.
WTO Agreement on Fisheries
The WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies was adopted at the organisation’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) on 17 June 2022.
The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, adopted at the 12th Ministerial Conference, marks a major step forward for ocean sustainability by prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depredation of the world’s fish stocks.
Implementing the new disciplines will present challenges for many developing country members, especially least-developed countries. The objective of this report is to examine existing bilateral and multilateral assistance in support of sustainable fisheries, including how this may help countries meet obligations under the new Agreement.