Chile has taken a significant step in the realm of international trade and environmental conservation by formally accepting the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. On December 12th, Chile's Undersecretary of International Economic Relations, Claudia Sanhueza Riveros, presented the instrument of acceptance to Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Director-General Okonjo-Iweala welcomed Chile's commitment to the Agreement, emphasizing Chile's prominent position as one of the world's leading fishing nations. The fisheries sector plays a vital role in job creation within the country. By accepting this Agreement, Chile reaffirms the importance of regulating fisheries subsidies to protect marine resources and support the livelihoods of those dependent on sustainable and thriving fisheries.
Undersecretary Sanhueza expressed Chile's satisfaction with the formal acceptance, highlighting the significance of the Agreement on the elimination of industrial fisheries subsidies. This accord, adopted at a recent WTO meeting, is of particular importance to Pacific nations, given the ongoing overexploitation of marine ecosystems in the region. It also addresses global environmental challenges concerning ocean sustainability.
Chile's acceptance of the Agreement brings the total number of WTO member countries that have formally embraced it to 53, a substantial portion of the membership and a significant step toward its implementation. The Agreement's entry into force requires the acceptance of two-thirds of WTO members.
Adopted by consensus during the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference in June 2022, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies establishes binding, multilateral rules designed to curb harmful subsidies, a major contributing factor to the depletion of global fish stocks. Additionally, the Agreement recognizes the specific needs of developing and least-developed nations and establishes a fund dedicated to providing technical assistance and capacity building to support their compliance with the Agreement's obligations.
The Agreement goes further by prohibiting support for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as well as ending subsidies for the exploitation of overfished stocks and fishing in unregulated high seas areas.
At the same MC12 conference, members also agreed to continue negotiations to address outstanding issues, aiming to provide recommendations by MC13, scheduled for February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. These additional provisions are intended to further enhance the effectiveness of the Agreement's regulations, marking continued progress in global fisheries conservation efforts.