Nigeria accepts WTO agreement to fight $70mn illegal fishing

…deposits instruments of acceptance

Nigerian government on Monday deposited its instrument of ratification for the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, signifying the country’s formal acceptance of the World Trade Organization, WTO’s, brokered multilateral agreement on prohibition of harmful fishing.

Nigeria was noted to be the second African WTO member to formally deposit the instrument of acceptance presented by the country’s representative Ambassador Adamu Mohammed Abdulhamid to the Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in Geneva, Switzerland.

WTO, in a statement published on its website on Monday, noted that acceptances from two-thirds of its members are needed for the Agreement to come into effect.

The statement quoted Okonjo-Iweala saying: “I am profoundly grateful to Nigeria for formally accepting the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. I am proud to see the country’s continued commitment to sustainable development and its vote of confidence in the work of the WTO.

”Nigeria’s acceptance adds to our growing tally of members that have accepted the Agreement — we have received about one-third of the total that we need for the Agreement to enter into force. I hope that Nigeria’s action serves as an inspiration to other governments in Africa and the rest of the world to move swiftly to implement the Agreement and foster global cooperation for the benefit of our shared future.”

Speaking, Ambassador Abdulhamid said: “The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies presents a unique opportunity for Nigeria to promote sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth and the improvement of livelihoods while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem, believing that the Agreement shall put a stop to all harmful fisheries subsidies such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities by all WTO members.

“By this instrument of acceptance, Nigeria reassures its commitment to a rule-based multilateral trading system by guaranteeing its compliance with the Agreement as well as refraining from introducing any new subsidies that harm the marine environment while recognizing the need for appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries which can be achieved through adequate policy space to develop its fisheries sector and technical assistance and capacity building in order to implement the discipline.

”Nigeria calls on other WTO members who are yet to ratify this agreement to do so as soon as possible so as to contribute to our global effort of preservation of the global fish stocks,” he said.

Further, WTO said Nigeria’s formal acceptance marks an important step toward entry into force of the Agreement with about one-third of the acceptances needed now in hand.

WTO added that, ”Nigeria is the fifth-largest African fishing nation and is estimated to lose about USD 70 million each year to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. The sector accounts for as much as 5 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP and supports the livelihood of about 24 million people.

”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 (LDCs) 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 statement read.

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