Lavish fishery sops by advanced nations unjust: Union minister Piyush Goyal

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July 16, 2021 2:00 AM

Massive subsidies, estimated to be in the range of $14 billion to $54 billion globally per annum and extended mostly by large fishing nations, have contributed to overexploitation of the world’s fish stocks, analysts have pointed out.

India is set to oppose any move to end the dole-out for fishermen in developing nations immediately, sources have said. Instead, it will seek more time for this to soften the blow to millions of fishermen in the country whose depend on fishing to eke out a living.India is set to oppose any move to end the dole-out for fishermen in developing nations immediately, sources have said. Instead, it will seek more time for this to soften the blow to millions of fishermen in the country whose depend on fishing to eke out a living.

India on Thursday told the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that allowing developed countries to continue to grant lavish subsidies to their fishermen is “unequal, unfair and unjust”.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of trade ministers at the WTO on the politically-sensitive fisheries subsidy negotiations, Union minister Piyush Goyal suggested that “big subsidisers take greater responsibility to reduce their subsidies and fishing capacities”, according to an official statement. This will be in accordance with the principles of “polluter pays” and “common but differentiated responsibilities”.

The meeting was aimed at finding out ways to preserve global fish stocks, including scrapping government funding that enables overfishing. The steady fall in the world’s fish populations below sustainable levels has added urgency to the negotiations that have been going on for about two decades now.

Massive subsidies, estimated to be in the range of $14 billion to $54 billion globally per annum and extended mostly by large fishing nations, have contributed to overexploitation of the world’s fish stocks, analysts have pointed out.

Goyal pointed out that the per capita fishery subsidy provided by most developing countries (including India) is minuscule compared to advanced fishing nations.

Any agreement on fishery subsidy must recognise that different countries are at different stages of development and that extant fishing arrangements reflect their current economic capacities, he added.

India is set to oppose any move to end the dole-out for fishermen in developing nations immediately, sources have said. Instead, it will seek more time for this to soften the blow to millions of fishermen in the country whose depend on fishing to eke out a living.

While developed economies, including the US and the EU, have advocated that all countries do away with fishing subsidies linked to overcapacity and overfishing, developing nations have sought to be exempted from such restrictions to protect their small fishermen. Also, Goyal has argued that countries like India who are yet to develop substantial and advanced fishing capacities, cannot sacrifice their future ambitions.

The fishing sector in the country is estimated to provide direct jobs to about 16 million fishermen and farmers and indirect employment to around 32 million.

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