Cabo Verde, an ocean state with a substantial maritime area, has officially deposited its instrument of acceptance for the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies on January 26th. Ambassador Clara Manuela da Luz Delgado Jesus presented Cabo Verde's acceptance to Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The Agreement is seen as crucial for Cabo Verde, as 80% of its population resides along the coast, and the well-being of its coastal communities relies on the sustainability of fisheries.
Director-General Okonjo-Iweala expressed delight at Cabo Verde's acceptance of the Agreement and emphasized its significance for the country. Coastal fisheries play a vital role in Cabo Verde's food security, livelihoods, and the national economy. She also expressed hope that more WTO members would follow suit, facilitating the Agreement's entry into force.
Ambassador Delgado highlighted Cabo Verde's vested interest in the responsible management of ocean fisheries resources, given its substantial maritime area. The WTO Protocol on Fisheries Subsidies aligns with the country's objectives, and Cabo Verde has formally accepted it. The Ambassador encouraged other states to join this effort and deposit their instrument of acceptance for the Protocol.
Cabo Verde's acceptance brings the total number of WTO members that have formally accepted the Agreement to 56, reaching 51% of the required threshold for the Agreement to take effect (two-thirds of WTO membership).
The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, adopted by consensus at the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference in June 2022, establishes binding multilateral rules to address harmful subsidies, a significant contributor to the depletion of global fish stocks. The Agreement also acknowledges the needs of developing and least-developed countries, offering technical assistance and capacity building to support their compliance with the Agreement's obligations.
Among its provisions, the Agreement prohibits support for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing overfished stocks, and ends subsidies for fishing activities in the unregulated high seas.
In addition to the existing Agreement, WTO members agreed to continue negotiations on outstanding issues with the aim of making recommendations by the 13th Ministerial Conference scheduled for February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. These recommendations aim to further enhance the Agreement's disciplines.