Japan gets on board with fishing accord

By AFP   July 4, 2023 | 06:09 pm PT
Japan gets on board with fishing accord
Wholesalers check tuna ahead of the last auction at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. Photo by AFP
Japan has formally accepted a WTO agreement on curbing harmful fishing subsidies, the global trade body said Tuesday, joining the United States, China and the European Union.

After more than two decades of negotiations towards banning subsidies that encourage overfishing and threaten the sustainability of fish stocks worldwide, a deal, albeit watered down, was finally sealed last June.

World Trade Organization chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala received Japan's instrument of acceptance from Kazuyuki Yamazaki, Tokyo's ambassador in Geneva.

"I welcome Japan's formal acceptance of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies," said Okonjo-Iweala.

"This significant step forward holds great importance considering Japan's status as a prominent fishing nation and as a steadfast supporter of the WTO.

"As we continue to navigate the challenges posed by overfishing and the depletion of fish stocks, the active participation of Japan and the wider WTO membership will be crucial."

The agreement bans subsidies that contribute to fishing that is illegal, unreported or unregulated, or of overfished stock, but it stops short of banning subsidies that contribute to overfishing more broadly.

It also prohibits subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas.

WTO members are meanwhile continuing to negotiate on outstanding issues with an eye to agreeing additional provisions to the agreement at the global trade body's next ministerial conference, to be held in the United Arab Emirates in February 2024.

Yamazaki said: "This is an expression of our strong determination as a country surrounded by the sea and historically familiar with fishery resources, and as a promoter of a multilateral trade system, to work together as one to ensure food security and achieve sustainable fisheries based on rules."

Twelve WTO members have now formally accepted the agreement: Belize, Canada, China, the EU, Iceland, Japan, Nigeria, Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland, the UAE and the United States.

For the 2022 agreement to be implemented, two-thirds of the WTO's 164 members must submit their "instruments of acceptance" with the Geneva-based global trade body.

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