UNEP-WWF Symposium on"Disciplining Fisheries Subsidies: Incorporating Sustainability at the WTO & Beyond"

Geneva, 1-2 March, 2007

On the 1st and 2nd of March 2007, UNEP-WWF convened a Symposium on "Disciplining Fisheries Subsidies: Incorporating Sustainability at the WTO & Beyond" at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Developing new disciplines on fisheries subsidies that present sustainability concerns is a priority for achieving sustainable management of the world's fisheries resources. After several years of valuable work on subsidies reform at UNEP and WWF, the remaining question is how “sustainability” can be incorporated into appropriate and workable conditions on fisheries subsidies at the WTO and beyond, including national and regional level fisheries policy. Answering this question was the aim of this symposium.

Participants included more than a hundred and twenty individuals from fifty national governments (including officials from environment, trade, and fisheries agencies), as well as ten intergovernmental organizations, three regional fisheries management organizations, seventeen non-government organizations, and eight academic institutions (List of Participants). More than thirty participants made formal presentations, all of whom were invited to speak in their personal capacities. The symposium was presided over by former FAO COFI chairman, Mr. Will Martin, who noted the unique mix of participants and the opportunity presented for a dialogue between experts in fisheries and trade policies (Chair’s Summary).

The draft paper, Sustainability Criteria for Fisheries Subsidies: Options for the WTO and Beyond, presented by the organizers was received as a useful contribution to the debate, and a number of specific questions and comments were offered by participants. The final version of this paper is now available on this website.

The discussion that took place throughout the Symposium confirmed the high level of interest among diverse stakeholders in crafting WTO rules that make a real contribution to sustainable fisheries through appropriate limits on fisheries subsidies. Though the issues tackled are at times complex, there was a general sense that plausible answers can and must be found. While further technical discussions remain necessary, it was generally acknowledged that this UNEP-WWF Symposium provided some clarification and depth to the ongoing discussions on incorporating sustainability concerns into fisheries subsidies reform.

If you have any questions regarding this meeting or other related issues please contact Anja von Moltke (anja.moltke@unep.ch) or Aimee Gonzales (agonzales@wwfint.org).

For more information on UNEP ETB's work on fisheries subsidies, please visit http://www.unep.ch/etb/areas/fisherySub.php



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