India fights for fairer fishing rights at WTO

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal called for preserving special and differential treatment at the WTO in dealing with fisheries subsidies saying India cannot compromise on the livelihoods of over 9 million fishermen families.

"I see a lot of countries very concerned about their fishermen. But what are the number of fishermen? One may have 1,500 fishermen, another may have 11,000 fishermen, another has 23,000 fishermen, and yet another 12,000," Goyal said in his intervention on Fisheries Subsidies Negotiation at the 12th World Trade Organisation (WTO) conference here.

"The concern of the small number of fishermen prevails over the livelihood of 9 million fishermen in India. This is completely unacceptable! And that is the reason, India is opposed to the current text, also opposed to the way De minimis is sought to be institutionalised," he said.

Opposing the WTO proposal on fisheries subsidies, Goyal said, "I see in every which way, the Uruguay round asymmetries and discrimination in agriculture being sought to be institutionalised in fishing today."

"I strongly feel that this outcome of the exercise being carried out now, has not provided a level-playing field to the developing nations to address the aspirations of the traditional fishers and their livelihood. Several million fishers, nearly 9 million families in India depend on assistance and support from the Government, albeit very small which I just demonstrated, for their livelihood," he said.

Fish is an inseparable part of Indian mythology, religion and culture. India's engagement in the sustainable harnessing of its fish and aquatic resources has always been exemplary, he said.


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