Seychelles becomes first African WTO member to formally accept fishing subsidies agreement

SEYCHELLES – On March 10, 2023, Seychelles deposited its instrument of acceptance for the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies making it the  the first African World Trade Organization (WTO) member state and the third globally after Switzerland and Singapore.

Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: “I am delighted and proud to welcome Seychelles’ ratification of the WTO’s Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies — the first African country to do so.”

“Healthier seas and oceans are vital for the prosperity and resilience of Seychelles’ fisheries and tourism industries. Seychelles’ formal acceptance also signals the importance of the Agreement to Africa. I am hopeful this will pave the way for others in the region to follow suit.”

This treaty, adopted by consensus during the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference held from 12 to 17 June 2022 in Geneva, set new binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies. The subsidies, according to WTO, are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.

 The Agreement, which requires acceptance from two-thirds of WTO members to come into effect, recognizes the needs of developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) and establishes a Fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the obligations.

In addition, it prohibits support for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing over-fished stocks, and ends subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas.

Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, to make recommendations by MC13 for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.

Seychelles’ Minister for Fisheries, Mr. Jean-François Ferrari, and the Minister for Finance, National Planning and Trade, Mr. Naadir Hassan, said in a joint statement that the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies presents a significant opportunity for Seychelles to promote sustainable fishing practices, protect its marine resources, and to aid in the conservation of fish stocks globally, especially within the African region.

By depositing its Instrument of Acceptance, the noted that Seychelles reinforces its commitment to multilateralism and ensuring that concrete steps are taken towards limiting harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing as set out in Target 14.6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, whilst empowering and supporting coastal communities as they transition towards sustainable practices.

When submitting its instrument of acceptance, Seychelles called on its neighbors within the African region, as well as its other WTO counterparts, to submit their Instruments of Acceptance in a bid to continue the global efforts in the conservation of the long-term health of oceans for future generations.

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