Notes and Comments on the Revised Draft Consolidated Chair Text on WTO’s Negotiating Group on Rules – Fisheries Subsidies

  • 19 July 2021, Monday

Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio
Director and CEO
Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA)

  1. Recognizing the importance of conserving coastal and marine resources as further emphasized in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 14: Life below water), we support the call that, “No Member shall grant or maintain any subsidy to a vessel or operator engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.”
  1. As studies have shown, the Philippine fisheries has for years experienced steep declines in catch per unit effort (CPUE) while the marine and capture fisheries landing, both for commercial and municipal fisheries, have followed upward trends due to continuing increases in fishing efforts and shifts in catch composition from more valued to less valued fishes.
  1. It would be of interest to know the actual status of the Philippine fisheries given that we have incomplete comprehensive national baseline data across the country, and systematic resource assessments across the Philippines are still wanting. The continued illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing contributed to degradation of coastal habitats and decline in fish biomass.
  1. With about 60% of the total population of the Philippines located in the coastal areas where stubborn poverty is being experienced by Filipino fishermen, the prohibition of subsidies would be instrumental in reducing fishing efforts that if supported with integrative conservation approaches could be instrumental in increasing access by many artisanal and municipal fishers to coastal and marine resources over the long haul. We share the view that this is instrumental in alleviating poverty and promotion of social equity among the coastal communities in a country whose core characteristic is archipelagic.
  1. Given that coastal communities remain among the poorest in the country, an effective and sustained management of coastal resources is important to enhance production of fish and other marine products, including the provision of livelihood and increase in incomes of the fisher households. In a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-commissioned study implemented by SEARCA, we provided an analysis fully supporting the need to implement an integrated and systematic program for a more effective and sustained implementation of the Coastal Resource Management (CRM) programs of the Philippines.

(Photo courtesy of Alfred John Michael C. Yap)