ARGENTINA: prohibition to transport unprocessed fish outside the Chubut Province

The Province of Chubut in Argentina adopted a new fisheries law in July 2007, the "Ley unificada de Pesca".

This legislation includes a number of interesting provisions. The most salient, in my view, is that it prohibits the transport, outside the Province, of unprocessed fish. Indeed, Article 37 bars the holders of a Provincial fishing license from shipping raw material to operators outside the Province, unless provided for in inter-Provincial agreements.

One of the main objectives of such provisions is make sure that there is a processing industry in the coastal areas adjacent to the fishing grounds. Because fishermen are obliged to deliver the raw material in these areas processing companies might benefit from more abundant fish and therefore pay lower prices for their raw material.

Is this a subsidy?

This brings to my mind two cases, one in the context of the GATT, the other at the WTO, involving Canada and the US in relation to restrictions on exports. In the first one, the US complained because Canada introduced export prohibitions of unprocessed herring, herring roe, and pink and sockeye salmon. The second case concerned a complaint by Canada about certain US measures that treat a restraint on exports of a product as a subsidy to other products made using or incorporating the restricted product if the domestic price of the restricted product is affected by the restraint.

Here in the link to the webpage of the official website of the Chubut Province displaying the contents of the legislation (in Spanish):


Philippines: seeking to conclude fisheries agreements with Palau and PNG

The termination of the country’s bilateral fishing access with Indonesia that lapsed two years ago has had negative consequences for Philippino companies.

Indeed, the five-year bilateral fishing agreement between the Philippines and Indonesia ended in December 2005, but was extended until the end of 2006. Under that bilateral fishing agreement, Philippine tuna fleets were allowed to "catch tuna and tuna-like species within the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It provided licenses to the Philippines for 75 catcher vessels, 150 fish carriers, 20 long liners, 300 light boats, and 10 single purse seiners, as well as allowed access to the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas of the Indonesian EEZ. The same pact also provided offloading and re-supply access to 10 Indonesian ports.

Government officials and businessmen from the Philippines are now approaching Palau and Papua New Guinea to explore the possibility of concluding fisheries agreements to relocate the fleet that can not longer benefit from the Indonesia agreement.

It is interesting to see that government officials ae involved in the search for a replacement for the Indonesia arrangement. Does this mean that the agreements with Palau and PNG, if any, will be more than granting private licenses to Philippino fishermen?

Here is a link to an official press release (Philippine Information Agency) dated 6 January 2009 on this matter:


WTO: position of INDIA at the ongoing negotiations on fisheries subsidies. Comments by Oceana

When reading the piece of news on India's subsidy programme for tuna fisheries I remembered that India, supported by China and Indonesia has pressed very hard for far reaching exceptions to subsidy disciplines at the ongoing WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies.

I quote here an article by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) published on 25 July 2008, while the (failed) WTO Mini-Ministerial meeeting was in progress.

Proposal by China, India and Indonesia

The latest proposal on fisheries subsidies was tabled on 21 July by China, India and Indonesia during the ongoing ministerial meeting in Geneva (TN/C/W/51). Trade ministers are currently convened in an attempt to reach a compromise in WTO negotiations on agriculture and non-agricultural market goods (see related story, this issue). While fisheries subsidies are not on the ministerial agenda, they are considered to be an important facet of the Doha development round.

The proposal emphasises the importance of special and differential treatment for developing countries given the particular importance of fisheries for livelihoods, poverty reduction and food security. More specifically, China, India and Indonesia call for exemptions from subsidies disciplines for developing country small and artisanal fishermen, as well as fisheries infrastructure and capital and operating costs.

The sponsors of this recent submission tabled the last proposal discussed in the fisheries negotiations. Much of the substance of the new proposal was covered in discussion on their previous proposal. For this reason, sources have commented that it is unclear when the opportunity to talk about the recent paper will arise or what value it will add to negotiations.While Courtney Sakai, campaigner for environmental group Oceana, called the tabling at the ministerial “misplaced,” others assume that the intent of the sponsors was to raise the profile of the capacity constraints and particular vulnerabilities of developing countries in the fisheries subsidies negotiations.

The aforementioned article by ICTSD can be found here:



INDIA: converting 1.000 vessels to tuna long liners

The Indian press has echoed the initiative of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) convert 1,000 fishing vessels to tuna long liners.

To this end MPEDA has put in place schemes providing subsidies for conversion of existing fishing vessels to tuna long liners, interest subsidy for resource-specific tuna long liners.

The author of the The Hindu's article over the subsidy programme for tuna fishing says:

It is expected that India will have a very large efficient and effective fleet of tuna long liners by 2012 and become one of the world leaders in the supply of tuna especially the high value tuna.

The full text of the article can be found here:


For those interested in the currently available subsidy programmes in India hereunder is the link to the MPEDA website with information on 28 fisheries and fish farming related subsidy programmes.



PAKISTAN: Actionaid report "Taking the fish"

During this holiday period I have done a little bit of desk research on NGO positions' on the WTO Doha negotiations relating to fishing issues.

Yesterday I came accross a report prepared by the charity "Actionaid" in the framework of its "Trade justice" campaign. According to Actionaid:

"The report - Taking the Fish – claims poor fishing communities in developing countries worldwide could be devastated by moves to open up fishing markets as part of the latest World Trade Organisation talks.

Pakistani fisher groups say trawlers from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan already encroach on their local waters and use giant fishing nets to scoop up and deplete fish stocks under Pakistan’s policy of opening up its waters to international fleets."

On page 6 the reader will find a section titled "WTO threat". I copy here under its contents:
"WTO threat

Serious new threats to further liberalise fishing trade in developingcountries and open up fisheries services sectors to foreigncompetition are emerging in the currentWTO global trade talks.WTO negotiations underway on subsidies and non-agriculturalmarket access (or NAMA) could:

(i) completely eliminate all tariffs in the fish and fish productssector (as has been proposed by Canada, Iceland, New Zealand,Norway, Singapore and Thailand)

(ii) significantly reduce tariffs in all sectors, including fish and fishproducts, if an agressive tariff-cutting 'Swiss formula' is applied toall industrial and natural resource sectors (the extent of such cutsis currently the focus of negotiations within the WTO)

(iii) discipline fishing subsidies in poor countries through on-goingtalks in the WTO Negotiating Group on Rules.

While the NAMA and subsidies negotiations have beenhighlighted, new moves to effectively ‘lock in’ essentially irreversible commitments to liberalise ‘services incidental to fishing’are now also being made in the currentWTO GATSnegotiations."

Here is the link to the page of the website of Actionaid where the report is presented: