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Gambia formally accepts agreement on fisheries subsidies

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By Omar Bah & Alagie Manneh

The Gambia deposited her instruments of acceptance of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies to the World Trade Organisation on 13 December, adding to the tally of formal acceptances to the halfway mark required for entry into force.

Seyaka Sonko, Minister of Interior of the Gambia, and Andrew Mitchell, Minister of State (Development and Africa) of the UK, presented the instruments of acceptance to Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who commented: “I am delighted to receive the formal acceptance of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies by the Gambia, the first least-developed country to do so.

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“The steady influx in formal acceptances of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies from governments across regions and levels of development is a testament to the widespread recognition of the pressing need to protect our oceans. Each new acceptance marks a step forward in our collective efforts to curb harmful fisheries subsidies, preserve marine resources, and safeguard the welfare of the people that depend on them,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said.

Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment of the Gambia said: “It is with great commitment and responsibility that the Gambia joins the international community in accepting the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. This agreement marks a crucial step towards sustainable marine practices and preserving our vital oceanic ecosystems. By addressing the challenges of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and overfished stocks by eliminating harmful subsidies, we are protecting our marine resources and safeguarding our coastal communities’ livelihoods. As a coastal state, the Gambia recognizes the critical role of sustainable fisheries for our national economy and the well-being of future generations. Our participation in this agreement is a testament to our dedication to promoting sustainable trade practices and environmental stewardship, in line with our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The most recent deposits of instruments of acceptance bring the total number of WTO members that have formally accepted the Agreement to 55. This is 50% of what is needed for the Agreement to come into effect (two-thirds of the WTO membership).

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Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies sets new, binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.

In addition, the Agreement recognizes the needs of developing and least-developed countries and establishes a fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the obligations.

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