Geneva: Brazil and Argentina proposed new international trade rules that would allow developing countries to subsidize their fisheries industries as long as fish stocks are conserved, trade diplomats said.
The joint proposal, in the Doha round negotiations on a new global trade agreement at the World Trade Organization (WTO), won support from several other developing countries including China and India, and a guarded welcome from the US and Australia, they said.
The proposal made by the Latin American countries would accept a ban on fishery subsidies as part of efforts to conserve fishing stocks and WTO rules restricting subsidies. But it would allow developing countries to subsidize the construction and repair of fishing vessels, support fishing fleets, for instance with supplies of fuel or ice, and support fishermen and their families. However, subsidies would be allowed only if the industry exploited non-endangered species in areas under the jurisdiction of the developing country providing the incentive, or allowed it to fill a quota agreed in a regional fisheries management organization. Activist group Oceana, which campaigns to protect the oceans, said the plan will help reconcile growth and sustainability.
“The proposal provides a real, workable approach that can potentially accommodate the interests of developing members in promoting a vibrant fishing sector, while providing for conservation and sustainability,” Oceana campaign director Courtney Sakai said.