The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has tabled a report recommending the ratification of the Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (Geneva, 17 June 2022).
The Agreement, which is noted as ‘a historic achievement’ by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), is a significant advancement in ocean sustainability. The Agreement will prohibit harmful fisheries subsidies which contribute to the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.
Committee Chair Mr Josh Wilson MP said: “This is the first WTO agreement to focus on environmental sustainability and delivers on a key Sustainable Development Goal target. This is positive for the environment, for humankind and for the sustainability of the world’s fisheries.”
The Agreement specifically prohibits subsidies to a vessel or operator that is engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, in addition to subsidies for fishing of overfished stocks and unregulated high seas fishing.
Mr Wilson said: “The Committee notes the importance of addressing the sustainability of the world’s global marine capture fisheries resources. This is especially important in the Pacific region and it is very welcome that Australia worked in partnership with Pacific nations to realise those interests as part of the treaty negotiations.”
The Committee notes the value of the Fisheries Funding Mechanism which will support the implementation of the Agreement, to which Australia has already donated 2 million AUD, reflecting the importance of these issues to Australia. Notably, Australia was the first to make a pledge to the new mechanism.
The Committee held a public hearing as part of its inquiry into the Agreement and heard from Government and other stakeholders. The Committee notes the support of the Government for the Agreement.
The Committee supports ratification and recommends that binding treaty action be taken.
The report can be found on the Committee website, along with further information on the inquiry.
Mr Tim Watkin, Chief of Staff, Office of Josh Wilson MP
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