The Philippines was identified as one of the first potential beneficiaries under a new WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism at this morning’s launch during the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva.
Speaking at the event, DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala noted that “we are working very hard to get members to the finish line on this long overdue (fisheries subsidies) agreement. We have come quite a long way. What I see today I could not have imagined a year ago.”
For his part, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, Chair of the Negotiating Group on Rules, observed that “fisheries subsidies are a somewhat new work area for the WTO… it may pose challenges for some members to integrate fisheries related elements in their subsidies policies and to put into place their fisheries information and management systems.”
The Philippines, alongside Mauritius and Barbados, were chosen as pioneer beneficiary partners. DA Undersecretary Cheryl Marie N. Caballero welcomed the new Fund and noted that the “Philippines has undertaken research on science-based approaches to sustainable fisheries management and will benefit from funding grants that will enhance its capacity and technical knowledge towards ensuring up to date resource management techniques.
“As the Philippines enhances our capacity, we stand ready to collaborate and cooperate with other WTO members to engender best practices for holistic fisheries management anchored on an ecosystem-based approach, and which promotes the latest technologies on fisheries stock assessment and tools for data collection.”
Article 7 of the proposed fisheries subsidies agreement will address technical assistance and capacity building needs and foresees the establishment of a voluntary funding mechanism under the WTO, in partnership with relevant international organizations such as FAO and IFAD. The WTO has received an initial pledge of USD5-M, with a view to meeting the Fund’s initial USD10-M goal.
The video recording of the event may be accessed at: https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/informalfishmc1214622_e.htm.