The United Kingdom deposited their instruments of acceptance of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies on 13 December, advancing the tally of formal acceptances to the halfway mark required for entry into force.

Andrew Mitchell, Minister of State (Development and Africa) of the UK presented the instruments of acceptance to the World Trade Organisation Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The most recent deposits of instruments of acceptance bring the total number of WTO members that have formally accepted the Agreement to 55. This is 50% of what is needed for the Agreement to come into effect (two-thirds of the WTO membership).

Minister Mitchell said: “I was delighted to present the Director-General with the UK’s instrument of ratification of the WTO fisheries agreement. It is a landmark agreement — vitally important for the world’s fish, for the fishing communities who depend on those fish, for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and for multilateralism. But the work isn’t finished. We strongly back the efforts to conclude the second stage of negotiations — to tackle the most harmful subsidies — ahead of the next WTO ministerial conference, MC13.”

“And I have been delighted to pledge up to one million pounds to the new WTO fisheries fund, through the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA’s) Blue Planet Fund, to support the effective implementation of this agreement by developing nations,” he said.

The UK’s total contribution to the various WTO trust funds to date is CHF 13.54 million.



Background to fisheries subsidy agreement

Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies sets new, binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks. In addition, the Agreement recognizes the needs of developing and least-developed countries and establishes a fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the obligations.

The Agreement prohibits support for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing overfished stocks and ends subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas.

Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to making recommendations by MC13, to be held in February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.

The list of members that have deposited their instruments of acceptance is available here. Information for members on how to accept the Protocol of Amendment is available here.

Further background on the agreement can be read here.

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