Friends of Fish’ is seeking a ban on subsidies for IUU fishing
India has notified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the subsidies it pays fisherfolk amid demands from a U.S.-led group of nations for a ban on subsidies given for illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
Stand of India
The move comes even as India has expressed concern over committing to norms at the WTO l level that will impact the livelihood of its subsistence fisherfolk.
The filing to the WTO Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM), shows ‘fishery subsidy schemes’ at the Central-, state- and union territory-levels provided for subsidies worth Rs.284 crore in 2014-15, and they mainly aim to “protect and secure the livelihood of traditional and poor fishing communities.”
India, among others, has expressed apprehensions that the demand for a ban on subsidies for IUU fishing could lead to prohibition even on fishing that could be termed non-IUU. This could, in turn, harm the interests of lakhs of subsistence fisherfolk in poor and developing nations.
Ban sought on ‘Unsustainable’ fishing
The U.S.-led group, ‘Friends of Fish’, is seeking a ban on subsidies given for IUU fishing, citing the rising global demand for fish and the consequent increase in ‘unsustainable’ fishing.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's ‘State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture’, almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now fished at biologically unsustainable levels, triple the level of 1974.
The demands of the ‘Friends of Fish’ grouping include ensuring a ban on subsidies, including that on fuel, which cut operating costs.
No concrete definition of IUU
This is because currently there is no unanimity among WTO members on what constitutes IUU fishing.