On May 26, 2021, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) proposed new measures to address forced labor on fishing vessels as part of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) agreement on curbing harmful fisheries subsidies. The negotiations, which began last year were delayed due to COVID-19. Negotiations restarted in April of 2021 with WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala calling on members to reach an agreement by July 2021. The proposed amendments are outlined below and update the May 2021 negotiating text which has been publicly released.
- Article 3.1: No Member shall grant or maintain any subsidy to a vessel [or operator] engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing or fishing related activities in support of such fishing.
- The following text is proposed for inclusion in any preamble to the agreement: Recognizing that effective disciplines on and greater transparency of fisheries subsidies can contribute to Members’ efforts to prevent and halt the use of forced labor on fishing vessels;
- The following text is proposed for inclusion as a chapeau to Article 3 concerning IUU fishing: Members recognize that the use of forced labor on fishing vessels is often associated with IUU fishing, and therefore that effective disciplines on subsidies to vessels and operators engaged in IUU fishing or fishing related activities in support of such fishing can contribute to Members’ efforts to eradicate forced labor on fishing vessels.
- The following text is therefore proposed for inclusion as Article 8.2(b):
8.2. Each Member shall notify the [Committee] in writing on an annual basis of:
(a) any list of vessels and operators that it has determined as having been engaged in IUU fishing; and
(b) any vessels and operators for which the Member has information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor, along with relevant information to the extent possible; and
(c) a list of any fisheries access agreements in force with another government or governmental authority, and such notification shall consist of the titles of the agreements and a list of their parties.
For more information on actions addressing human rights and forced labor abuses, contact our team and see previous posts below.