THE Philippines has proposed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) a scheme to cap monetary subsidies for fisheries which offers more flexibility for developing and least-developed member groups.

The Philippines, along with other five other members, introduced a total of four proposals debated at the March 27-29 meeting of the WTO Negotiating Group on Rules on Fisheries Subsidies.

The Philippines’ informal proposal does not represent an official position, and includes a formula that will determine the acceptable levels of monetary support. It differs from a United States-Australia joint proposal for individual, negotiated amounts.

The Philippine proposal classifies members into four types, each with a different subsidy cap: a developed or developing country belonging to the top 10 marine capture producers, a developing countries member that is part of the top 10 but whose large-scale commercial fishing is minimal, other remaining developing countries, and least-developed countries (LDCs).

Linking state-backed monetary support for fishing to illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in disputed waters, the Philippines earlier proposed that WTO members eliminate subsidies to fishing in waters where there are conflicting territorial claims or otherwise broker some sort of cooperation between or among themselves.

During the last meeting, the Philippines said it was working on a comprehensive proposal where the capping approach makes up only a portion.

The WTO has agreed to adopt at this year’s Ministerial Conference a comprehensive fisheries subsidies deal, negotiations for which started in 2001.

The target to clinch a deal by year’s end is in fulfillment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14.6, which calls for the prohibition and elimination, by 2020, of fisheries subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing and to overcapacity and overfishing, with appropriate special and differential treatment accorded to developing countries and LDCs. — Janina C. Lim