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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement15 July 2021Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries1 min read

WTO takes important steps towards global trade rules for sustainable fishing

Fishing trawler © eternalfeelings /
Fishing trawler © eternalfeelings / Adobe Stock

On 15 July, the World Trade Organization (WTO) held a ministerial meeting on fisheries subsidies, which confirmed the commitment to set the course for a successful outcome on negotiations before the WTO’s Ministerial Conference starting in November 2021. The Ministers reconfirmed their shared objective to reach an agreement that will make a meaningful contribution to halting the continued degradation of the world’s fisheries resources and the economic activities, and livelihoods they support. While some divergences remain, the consolidated text proposed by the Chair of the negotiations provides a solid basis for the final leg of the negotiations.

In his remarks to his counterparts across the world, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said:

Protecting global fisheries resources is a shared responsibility and, as such, achieving a multilateral outcome is the only way to address the issue of harmful subsidies. We welcome Director-General Okonjo-Iweala’s commitment to reaching an agreement ahead of the 12th Ministerial Conference and we are fully committed to this objective. The mandate laid out in UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.6 must remain our guide in these negotiations.

The European Union (EU), in its common fisheries policy, has long prioritised an approach that ensures that fishing is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. This has been the result of a deep reform process, phasing out harmful subsidies in favour of positive subsidies that promote sustainable fishing and strengthening systems to manage fishing activities. Based on this positive experience, the EU also advocates that WTO rules must be based on sustainability.  

More information

Opening statement by Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis at the WTO meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee on fisheries' subsidies


Publication date
15 July 2021
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries