WTO deal on fishing subsidies could transform global seafood trade (SeafoodSource)

China’s distant-water fishing industry has “glorious achievements” to be proud of, according to the head of the state-sponsored lobby group representing the sector.

Speaking at the China International Fishery Cooperation Summit in Guangzhou recently, China Distant-Water Fishing Association Secretary General Huang Bao Shan said the development of the sector “has been orderly” and that it has invested in equipment upgrades that have modernized the fleet.

Huang has been seeking to influence China’s 14th Five-Year Plan so that further encouragement is given to the distant-water sector.

Also speaking at the event was Huang Fu Xiong, secretary general of the Guangdong Association of Distant-Water Fishing, who announced his city’s intention to further expand its distant-water fleet in order to develop a world-leading tuna processing hub.

China’s distant-water sector – which now has the world’s largest fleet – has much to celebrate after a decade of broad expansion and profit-making, thanks in part to generous subsidies from the central government. But it has also faced increasingly sharp criticism of its practices in adhering to international law by fishing inside the exclusive economic zones of countries from Ecuador to Ghana.

The future of the Chinese distant-water fishing effort may likely be decided at the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva this winter, where there has been a resumption in discussions on a deal on eliminating harmful fishing subsidies. There has been “constructive engagement” from members on a text prepared by the chair of the talks, according to Ernesto Fernandez Monge, officer for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ program to end harmful fisheries subsidies.

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