WTO: more of Hollywood in fisheries subsidies negotiations

In my 31 Oct 2009 post titled “WTO: fisheries subsidies and Hollywood under the same roof” I discussed how some celebrities were supporting NGOs in lobbying for strong WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

In another post of 3 Nov 2010 titled “NZ/WTO: Tim Groser on film stars and WTO fisheries subsidies” I discussed Tim Groser’s (NZ Minister responsible for Trade) comments on the role played by celebrities and Hollywood stars in international negotiations, especially in the area of climate change.

On 11 May 2011 the WWF issued a press release announcing that:

“Today, Mission Blue, Oceana and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) delivered a letter to President Obama calling for renewed U.S. leadership at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to end subsidies that contribute to overfishing.

In the letter, 77 prominent environmental leaders and groups, including conservation organizations Oceana and WWF, marine scientists Dr. Sylvia Earle and Dr. Daniel Pauly, and celebrity activists Leonardo DiCaprio, Chevy Chase and Darryl Hannah wrote, “The United States has played a strong role across successive administrations, to achieve new rules for fisheries subsidies at the WTO. Recent developments at the WTO may threaten to derail years of progress towards a successful result. We urge you at this important juncture to send clear and public signals that a genuine ‘win’ on fisheries subsidies remains a critical priority for the United States at the WTO.”

I am sure that Tim Groser, as Trade Minister of a country which is championing the adoption of very strong rules on fisheries subsidies at the WTO, will be very happy that celebrities and Hollywood give their support this time to this cause.

Here is the full link to the full text of the press release.



OMAN: subsidies for the purchase of fishing vessels, engines, gear, fish processing equipment, etc

A recent press release from Oman's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (17 May 2011) announced a new regulation which provides for a whole array of subsidies for the artisanal fishing sector.

According to the press release the new regulation:

"...includes subsidizing the artisan fishing sector for purchasing fishing boats, engines, instruments and equipment used in the artisan fishing boats, as well as the artisan fishing accessories, in addition to the subsidy allocated for purchasing the long fishing threads, electric cranes used in the artisan fishing boats and GPS and other equipment."

"also included the coastal fishing subsidy for purchasing and possessing fishing equipment, quality control devices, subsidizing the fishing industries, such as, the fish drying and preparation equipment whether by salting, smoking or storing."
Here is the link to this press release:
 Another press, of 18 May 2011, article of ONA (Oman News Agency) gives a few figures of the Omani fishing sector

"The fisheries sector is one of the major contributors to non-oil/gas generated income, but it is seen as having an even much greater potential with Omani fishing waters being regarded as among the richest in the world. The sector and associated industry plays a vital role in the economy, as well as in the livelihoods of tens-of-thousands of fishermen and employees in the fisheries industry. The sector’s huge growth can be directly related to its importance and the confidence placed in it by public and private sector investors. It generated substantial income with figures for 2009, showing that over 158,000 tonnes of fish with a value of RO104 million were landed, a growth of four per cent compared to 2008. In 2010, local authorities have worked hard to ensure that specified rules and regulations are adhered to by fishermen."

And here is the link to the above press article:



WTO: ingredients for salvaging the Doha Round (fisheries subsidies not included!)

Ujal Singh Bhatia, former India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO in Geneva has written on 10 May 2011 an interesting piece in Voxeu.org, a website on research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists. There is a link to it in my blog list.

To salvage Doha Mr Bathia suggests:

"Based on this broad understanding of the situation, a three pronged approach needs to be explored:
  • Seriously contentious issues like the Market Access issues, Agricultural Subsidies, and Rules may be segregated for continuing consultations under agreed terms of reference.
The segregated package has to be internally balanced to allow for incentives and trade offs for all players.
  • Stand alone agreements to be finalised on less contentious issues.
The areas for focus are fairly obvious to those close to the negotiations.1
  • The third component would be a Ministerial decision to initiate a work programme for institutional reform in the WTO."
Ujal Singh Bhatia © voxEU.org

The areas for focus arementioned in footnote 1 and they are the following:
"Specifically, Trade Facilitation, all aspects of Export Competition in Agriculture including Export Subsidies, Transparency Mechanism for RTA’s, LDC Waiver in Services, NTB’s package in NAMA, Ministerial decisions on Para 31(i) and 31(ii) of the Doha Ministerial Declaration, Implementation of the Hong Kong decision on Duty Free Quota Free treatment for LDC’s, a Ministerial decision on the Monitoring Mechanism for S&D provisions, as well as a Ministerial Decision on the issues raised by the C-4 on Cotton."

It is interesting to see how this list compares with other lists, such as the one proposed by the US, which includes, next to trade facilitation, fisheries subsides or the liberalisation of trade in the so called "environmental goods" but no "cotton" or duty-free quota-free for LDC's.

Here is the link to the article:



EU: WWF and its allies call for real reform of the EU's Fisheries Policy (also of subsidies?)

Just before the start of the European Seafood Exhibition in Brussels the WWF posted on its website a leaflet on the above subject with as head title "A shared vision for sustainable European fisheries"

I went through it and to my great surprise I did not find the "s" word, i.e. subsidy, subsidies, (financial) support. So, this piece of policy (not negligible) does not appear in this document. You could read such absence in different ways. One could be: subsidies must go, they should disappear, so do not mentioned them. The other way of reading the document would be: do not touch subsidies, keep them as they are (or at least at the same level). Another way of looking at it would suggest that, as subsidies are such a contentious issue, it is better not to address them. 

I found also interesting the sentence that reads as follows:
"This reform should seek to maximise the economic benefits for society through the sustainable management of these vital and renewable resources for future food security."
 This sounds like agriculture. Would this mean that the EU has to ensure that it can be self sufficient in its supply of fish products, for food security purposes?

At any rate, the EU subsidses the production of the leaflet! Should we call this a virtuous (or good, or green) fisheries subsidy? I leave the answer to the readers of this blog.

Here are a few links on this document:



USA: subsidies for sector start-up costs and dock side monitoring for New England fishermen

Here is a catch from the Net! 

Here are a couple of links with information on the above subject. The one with the presentation titled  Accessing Federal Funding for Dockside Monitoring & Sector Operations slides (in PDF)  is particularly interesting as it provides a nice overview of how the programme  works.




USA: proposal for fuel subsidies for commercial fishermen in Maine

In recent weeks I have written a few posts on fuel subsidies.

Here is one on a bill in the State of Maine to Refund the Sales Tax Paid on Fuel Used in Commercial Fishing Vessels

The Republicans in Main are proposing a series of tax cuts, including taxes on fuel used by fishing vessels. In one press article (see link hereunder) State Senator Trahan is quoted as saying that "The elimination of the sales tax on fuel used in the Gulf of Maine is aimed at encouraging fishermen to bring their fish to Portland, rather than Massachusetts".

Here is the link with official information on the bill on fishing vessels :


Here the article on tax cuts (including in fuel for fishing vessels) proposed by the Republicans in Maine: