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Seychelles Becomes first WTO Member from Africa to Formally Accept Fishing Subsidies Agreement

On March 10, Seychelles became the first African nation and the third member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to deposit its instrument of acceptance for the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. The agreement requires acceptance from at least two-thirds of WTO members to come into effect.
Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala expressed her delight and pride at Seychelles’ ratification of the WTO’s Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, making it the first African country to do so. In her statement, she emphasized the crucial role of healthier seas and oceans in promoting the prosperity and resilience of Seychelles’ fisheries and tourism industries. She also underscored the significance of Seychelles’ formal acceptance in signaling the Agreement’s importance to Africa and expressed her hope that it will encourage other African countries to follow suit.

The joint statement by Seychelles’ Minister for Fisheries, Mr Jean-François Ferrari, and the Minister for Finance, National Planning and Trade, Mr Naadir Hassan, expressed that the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies provides Seychelles with a significant opportunity to promote sustainable fishing practices, protect its marine resources, and contribute to the conservation of fish stocks globally, particularly within Africa. By depositing its Instrument of Acceptance, Seychelles reinforces its commitment to multilateralism and takes tangible steps towards limiting harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing, as outlined in Target 14.6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The statement further emphasizes the country’s support for coastal communities transitioning towards truly sustainable practices.

The ministers stated that Seychelles aims to realize its vision of developing the fisheries sector to its full potential while preserving the marine environment and resources for sustainability. By depositing its Instrument of Acceptance, the country is taking a significant step towards ensuring the long-term viability of its fishing industry through participative and co-management approaches to preserve its unique biodiversity. They also called on neighboring African countries and other WTO member states to submit their Instruments of Acceptance to continue global efforts to conserve the long-term health of oceans for future generations.

Lucille Veronique Brutus, Seychelles’ trade attaché, presented her government’s acceptance instrument to DG Okonjo-Iweala. The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies was adopted by consensus at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the WTO in Geneva from 12-17 June 2022. This agreement establishes new binding, multilateral regulations to limit harmful subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks. The agreement also recognizes the needs of developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) and establishes a fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to assist them in fulfilling their obligations.

The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies adopted at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) establishes binding rules to combat harmful subsidies, which contribute to the depletion of the world’s fish stocks. Among its provisions, the Agreement forbids support for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, prohibits subsidies for fishing overfished stocks, and eliminates subsidies for fishing in unregulated high seas. Members also committed to further discussions on unresolved matters to improve the Agreement’s disciplines and strengthen its provisions before the 13th Ministerial Conference.

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