WTO rallies Nigeria on checking illegal fishing practices

By Anthony Otaru, Abuja |   21 July 2022   |   4:07 am  

As part of efforts to monitor global waters presently characterized by illegal and unreported fishing practices, the World Trade (WTO) has entered into agreement with member countries to deposit an instrument of acceptance at the door post of the world body for ratification within six to nine months.

The organization has established a $20 million rolling fund to enable countries, especially developing ones, to apply for the facility for improved capacity and management skills to run their fishery deposits in line with best practices.

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed this yesterday, when she paid an unscheduled visit to the Minister of State for Industry Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yalwaji Katagum in Abuja.

Okonjo–Iweala said the decision was reached at a recent WTO Ministerial Meeting 12 held in Geneva, Switzerland aimed at curbing illegal fishing practices going on across waters, especially of developing countries.

She however, explained that for the agreement to get ratification and become effective, there is need for two-third of member states to deposit the instrument of acceptance at the WTO Director-General office in the next nine months.

Okojo-Iweala said, ‘’This Fisheries agreement is trying to stop something that is harmful to the sustainability of the world’s trade that allows nations to a very large extent, overfish the ocean of the world. Overfishing, illegal fishing or unreported fishing takes place on our waters. This is a very big problem for the world because; over 160 million people depend directly or indirectly on fisheries across the world, 12 million in Africa and if we don’t stop these harmful practices, which means that fishes will be depleted in our waters.

‘’77 per cent of fish stock are overfished. By 2015, it was around 35 percent, a recent study has shown that almost 50 percent over fishing is recorded in our stocks and it is mainly in the developing countries that do not have the capacity to monitor their waters.

‘’This agreement tries to curb the countries that allow this to happen, so we need to ratify the agreement with the deposition of the instruments of acceptance from countries at the WTO headquarters so that violators could be punished’’.

She stressed, ‘’I would like Nigeria to be among the very first to submit their instrument, we at the headquarters stand ready to assist technically or capacity support wise need for you to get through but will advise you to get stakeholders together from the ministry and outside the Ministry to get this done’’.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador, Mariam Yalwaji Katagum said the enlarged national focal point on trade matters which is an inter-ministerial committee set up by the Federal Government to consider and advise on trade matters has held a meeting to debrief stakeholders about the outcome of MC12 and has advised on the steps to be taken to ensure these outcomes are not just effectively implemented but are felt by the Nigerian people.

The Minister noted, ‘’Among the raft of decisions reached, the ministry, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders have met to specifically consider the agreement on fisheries subsidies and deliberated on how Nigeria can implement the agreement while also, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the newly created WTO Fish Fund’’.

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