WTO proposal on fishing subsidies help corporates, not fisherman: Hibi Eden

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Indian Express, December 1, 2021

The WTO Ministerial Conference seeks to finalise a pact on fishing subsidies. Congress MP Hibi Eden, who gave an adjournment motion notice to discuss the issue in Lok Sabha, tells Liz Mathew his concerns:

You raised a question on fisheries sector privatisation

The WTO proposal is to ratify an agreement on discipline in fisheries subsidies. Amid the pandemic and climate change, fishing sector is the most affected. Subsidies, including for kerosene, is a must for a country like India. The proposals in the WTO meet would help corporates while fishermen will end being labourers.

Is depletion of marine wealth not a matter of worry?

Yes it is, especially when 7.28 per cent of our GDP depends on marine wealth. It needs a scientific approach.

Why are you linking the issue with the blue economy policy?

Blue economy and exclusive zoning of deep-sea fishing is very serious. When subsidies are taken off by WTO and when corporates are allowed to do deep-sea fishing… the link is very clear.

You had written to the PM and the fisheries minister?

My point was that the government should oppose it on global platform. Today the Fisheries Minister told me that India has decided to oppose it.

Earlier too there were demands that such issues must be discussed in Parliament

All organisations — political and apolitical — should be taken into confidence before framing such policies. All parties should be called for discussions. The government’s stand on the WTO ministerial (conference) was not clear until I spoke with the minister.

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