Indian small-scale fishermen want full exemption from WTO subsidy restrictions.

India’s small and marginal fishermen have demanded a full exemption from some WTO obligations to reduce subsidies on essential items such as fuel, nets, fishing boats and other fishing gear for fishing up to 200 nautical miles (nm), which they say could incentivize them out into poverty. “Almost 70 percent of fishermen in India already live in poverty. For us, fishing is a source of livelihood. We use a local fishing method which is mostly non-commercial. We must be completely freed. from all reduction obligations,” said Olencio Simoes, national director of fish workers in Indian fishing groups Secretary General of the Forum at a press conference on WTO MC13.

NFF in a letter to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. and Fisheries Minister Parshottam Khodabhai Rupala on Tuesday emphasized that the government must champion the cause of its small-scale fishermen at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi from 26-29. February, ensuring special and differential treatment (SandDT). ) exception that exceeds the currently proposed limit of 12 nm. “Due to the inherent semi-formal nature of the work and the limitations of sophisticated navigational equipment, small-scale fishermen exceed the proposed limits by up to 24 nm. 200 nautical miles,” it said. While India has already asked for an exemption to be extended to small-scale fishermen up to 200 nautical miles, the latest draft agreement circulated at the WTO on Monday proposes a distance of 12 nm or 200 nm, indicating that the final distance is open to further negotiations.

On the downside

But more worrying is that the text proposes an “unreasonable condition” to deny these benefits of SandDT to developing countries that can engage in significant deep sea. fishing in the future (more than 2 percent of the total marine catch), notes Mukesh Bhatnagar, India’s former WTO fisheries negotiator offshore,” Bhatnagar said. This condition also endangers small-scale fishermen who have nothing to do with deep-sea fishing. “Currently, deep-sea fishing in most developing countries is likely to fall below the planned 2% limit, although the data is not yet entirely clear. But if they exceed this limit in the future, they will lose access to SandD,” the third world network said in a statement.

“Don’t play these counting games with us (small fishermen). Free us from WTO obligations. We don’t want to get into statistics,” said Jones T Spartegus of the Coastal Action Network. He said it was unfortunate that small-scale fishermen, whose livelihoods are decided at the WTO, have no place in the negotiations.India, 9 million people, mostly poor people, depend on fishing for their livelihood. Fishermen are the poorest and more than 90 percent of fishermen borrow from bankers under government schemes, said RV Kumaravelu from Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu. “If the WTO forces the government to cut subsidies, it will lead to a dangerous situation for the fishing community and their livelihoods. Most people belong to traditional fishing and are poor.

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