USA: "charitable" fisheries subsidies and the WTO

The Gloucester Times published a few days ago an article titled "Leader urges federal action". The article discusses, among other things, how the introduction of the so called "catch shares" is taking place.

In the article there was a reference to:

"[…] groups of cooperative organized fishermen on Cape Cod, who are receiving subsidies from the Pew Environment Group, […]

This seems to confirm what I wrote in my post of 1st June 2009 "USA: public private partnership in subsidies for the fishing sector", namely that US fishermen are being subsidised with public and private money.

Now, from a WTO perspective one could ask whether this would be a "prohibited" subsidy according to the draft text presented by the Chair of the negotiating group, Ambassador Valles Galmes, in November 2007 (document TN/RL/W/213 of 30 Nov. 2007).

The answer would be …perhaps not. Why? Because Ambassador Valles' draft text includes an exception for this type of subsidy. Article II e) of the draft text reads as follows:

"Nothing in Article I shall prevent governments from making user-specific allocations to individuals and groups under limited access privileges and other exclusive quota programmes".

So, if "user specific allocations" cover allocations for the introduction of catch shares, then such private subsidies, which by the way are tolerated by the US authorities, could be exempted from a prohibition.

Here is the link to the article in the Gloucester Times:


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