Agreement on Fisheries subsidies remains the Priority for the Pacific

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The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies remains the priority for the Pacific, says Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Faiyaz Koya.

Speaking during ACP Coordination Group meeting in Geneva, Koya said the Pacific would ensure that harmful subsidies are eliminated to protect the resources for our future generations.

“We are at the pivotal point, whether to deliver on fisheries subsidies, after talking about it for 20 years.

“For the Pacific it has always been a priority that we must have a credible and balanced agreement that delivers the mandate of this negotiation in line with this ministerial conference and SDG 14.6,” he said.

Meanwhile, apart from the definition of fish, on behalf of the Pacific, Koya proposed that the ACP support the Pacific position on proportionately for notification.

The current draft for notifications requires that all forms of subsidies must be notified – which will be a costly and onerous obligation.

He said there should not be obligations to notify on fishering undertaken due to insignificant support, which does not contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, provided by the Governments.

“For instance, we in the Pacific, we give small gifts of tools like fishing hooks and fishing nets to the small fishermen’s such to support the livelihoods of the maritime islands and coastal communities; and for the Pacific preservation of sovereign rights under UNCLOS Article 62 is critical.

“It is very important for us to preserve our rights to license to foreign vessels at the rate that we agree with the party.

“This should be excluded from the scope of the agreement.”

Koya said despite the gains made, the Pacific was unhappy that the agreement failed to discipline the largest subsidisers.

“These large fishing nations are not making ambitious cuts or commitments to reduce overall subsidies that contribute towards overfishing and overcapacity.

“We would like to remind the group that in terms of impact, the largest subsidiers are not being disciplined to meet the SDG 14.6 mandate that we all have committed to.”

Koya acknowledged that the revised text on the table was a good basis for going forward.

“And we need to protect the gains that have been made, particularly in securing the de minimis we want, as we move forward to seek improvements to the issues that remain outstanding for the groups.” .

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS