Analysis and Cases of 169 Targets under Sustainable Development Goals (122)


The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development covers 17 goals, the 14th of which is “Life Below Water”namely: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Under this major goal, there are 10 targets, the 14.6 of which is By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation.”

Current Situation

The World

WTO initiates “second wave” of negotiations on fisheries subsidies


The WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation is a part of the WTO Doha Development Round negotiations and has been ongoing for 21 years now. The negotiation aims to establish new subsidy rules to constrain harmful fisheries subsidies and promote the sustainable development of marine fishery resources. After negotiations among members, MC12 ultimately reached the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. It is the first WTO agreement primarily aimed at achieving environmental sustainable development goals.

The World Trade Organization launched the “second wave” of negotiation on fisheries subsidies on February 20 of this year. This negotiation has been deadlocked for several months. The second stage of negotiation is a follow-up to the historic agreement reached at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference on fisheries subsidies in June last year. However, since the departure of Colombian representative Santiago Wills at the end of September last year, negotiation has been paralyzed at a critical moment due to no one presiding over the process.

According to the agreement reached in June 2022, the 164 members of the global trading body pledged to continue discussions on outstanding issues in order to reach a comprehensive agreement at the next WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in the United Arab Emirates in February 2024. However, due to the difficulty in reaching a consensus among members on the new chairman of the negotiating group to oversee this process, the second phase of negotiation has been delayed and unable to start.

Finally, a replacement for Wills was found: Einar Gunnarsson, the representative of Iceland. He presided over his first plenary meeting onFebruary 20 and reported to the members on the talks he held with about 30 delegations from February 8 to 15. He said at a press conference, “I am optimistic that we will be able to complete our ‘marching order’ at the 13th Ministerial Conference in a year's time, proposing supplementary provisions for a comprehensive agreement on fisheries subsidies. The tone has always been positive and constructive.” In his report, he said that countries emphasized the importance of setting rules on subsidies that lead to overcapacity and overfishing, which includes providing flexibility for developing and poorer countries.

After more than 20 years of negotiation to ban harmful subsidies that encourage overfishing and threaten the sustainability of Earth’s fish stocks, a albeit watered down agreement was finally finalized at the WTO meeting held in Geneva in June last year. The agreement prohibits subsidies for illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing activities, or fishing activities of fish stocks that have been overfished. The agreement recognizes the so-called special and differential treatment for developing countries. Two thirds of the members of the WTO must submit their “acceptance documents” to this global trade body in order for this 2022 agreement to take effect.



China promotes high-quality development of fisheries

According to the “Notice on Implementing Fishery Development Support Policies to Promote High-Quality Development of Fishery” jointly issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in 2021, China’s fishery policies will comply with the overall trend of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation, promote high-quality and sustainable development of fisheries, and guide fishermen to conserve fishery resources.


The central fishery development subsidy funds are mainly used to support national-level marine pastures, basic public facilities of fishing ports, and surveys of offshore and off-sea fishery resources. In other general transfer payments, the distribution of fuel cost subsidies has been stopped and the subsidies policy for conservation of marine fishery resource has been implemented; Fishing vessels that can receive subsidies must strictly implement the off-season fishing ban and responsible fishing system in the ocean. Among them, the “responsible fishing subsidy” includes mandatory indicators such as notification on port entry and exit, vessel position monitoring, fishing logs, port setting and landing, as well as encouraged selection indicators such as quota fishing, fishing gear management, and legality product labeling.

The“14th Five-Year Plan for National Fisheries Development” is a key stage in promoting the transformation of China’s marine fisheries. Key areas such as total management of marine fishery resources, quota fishing, and reform of fishing vessel and port management will be significantly promoted, and a series of new management measures have been implemented. The new policy of fishery subsidies mentioned above will assist in the implementation of these management measures.



The World

Seychelles ratifies the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies 

On March 10, Seychelles submitted a document to the World Trade Organization (WTO) approving the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, becoming the first member of the WTO in Africa and the third globally (after Switzerland and Singapore) to approve the agreement.


As a maritime country, Seychelles has a strong dependence on the marine environment. Healthy oceans and sustainable fishing resources are not only related to its economic development, but also to its survival. In the current global trading system, although fishing, especially commercial fishing, has had a serious impact on the sustainability of marine resources, it also involves a wide and complex range of interest groups and chains. Considering the sustainable development of the environment and resources from a trade perspective has gone beyond the characteristics of trade’s economic behavior and become an important choice related to global development.

The WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies is undoubtedly an important attempt by WTO members to address this challenge from a multilateral perspective and reduce disruptive market behavior. Joint action based on consensus to reduce the uncontrolled consumption of marine resources has positive practical significance. As an important measure to protect the Earth’s homeland, the approval and implementation of the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies requires all parties to accelerate their actions.


NRDC supports sustainable transformation of China’s fisheries

A scientifictotal allowable catch (TAC) management system, a strict monitoring and enforcement system, and a comprehensive management reform of fishing vessels and ports are key areas for sustainable fisheries development in China. Since 2016, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has collaborated with multiple units to support the sustainable transformation of China’s offshore fisheries, as follows:

Fishery systems and regulations: The NRDC cooperated with government departments and academic institutions to organize the first TAC international seminar in China, organized management and scientific researchers to investigate fishery management in Alaska and other places in the United States, explored solutions including multi species TAC, and promoted the establishment of scientific management on fishery systems. The NRDC and its partners have translated and compiled fishery laws from 13 representative countries or regions, providing reference for the revision of China’s fishery laws and the construction of other regulatory systems.

TAC pilot: The NRDC provided suggestions for the design and implementation of coastal TAC through the introduction to international cases and technical tools, and conducted research on pilot projects in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces under the guidance of fisheries regulatory authorities, and proposed policy recommendations. A paper on fishery monitoring and evaluation of China’s first TAC pilot project, jointly written by the NRDC and experts from the Zhejiang Marine Fisheries Research Institute, the Ocean University of China, and the University of Maine, was published in the well-known international academic journal “Marine Policy”.


Managing fishing by port: The NRDC actively promotes international experience in the role and mechanisms of fishing logs, observer systems, notifications on port entry and exit, and vessel position monitoring in catch regulation and law enforcement, and supports China’s reform of fishing port management. By organizing international seminars, the NRDC has successively shared the experience of fishing port management in countries and regions such as the United States, Japan, and the European Union. It has also released reports on the EU’s fishing port monitoring and catch tracing, as well as international policies and cases on fishery digitization. The latter aims to provide reference for promoting the digitalization of China’s fisheries governance and achieving precise and sustainable development.


Shandong and Fujian stop issuing fuel subsidies for fishing vessels

In 2022, Shandong and Fujian provinces respectively announced that they would start issuing “subsidies for conservation of marine fishery resource”, targeting the owners of fishing vessels engaged in domestic offshore fishing in their respective provinces. At the same time, the fuel subsidies for fishing vessels that had been in effect for 15 years would no longer be issued.


Fishery fuel subsidies are considered to promote overfishing due to their indiscriminate“blood transfusion” into the industry, and are also inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. In the ongoing agreement on fisheries subsidies negotiation at the WTO, China has expressed its support for completing the negotiations on fisheries subsidies as soon as possible before the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, and for prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies that promote overcapacity and overfishing.

The shift from fuel subsidies to subsidies for resource conservation is part of China’s efforts to promote sustainable fisheries. Financial and tax policies are an effective lever to influence the “money bag” of fisheries, but they still need to be continuously tracked, monitored, and evaluated to ensure that the impact of subsidies is consistent with the original intention of subsidy establishment and the overall direction of sustainable transformation of fisheries.

Shenzhen releases special fund support measures for modern fisheries


In order to further standardize and strengthen the management of special fund for fisheries development and improve the efficiency of fund utilization, the Shenzhen Municipal Planning and Natural Resources Bureau released the“Shenzhen Modern Fisheries Special Fund Support Measures (Draft for Soliciting Opinions) (hereinafter referred to as the “Measures”). The “Measures” combine the actual situation of Shenzhen’s fishery development and proposes 30 specific measures in five aspects: strengthening the empowerment of scientific and technological innovation, accelerating the development of livelihood fisheries, developing deep-sea fisheries, strengthening brand construction and promotion, and accelerating the development of leisure fisheries.

The “Measures” clearly stipulate that subsidies of up to 30 million yuan will be given to major improved variety technology research and development projects, fishery biology research and development projects,  frontier and common key technologies of fishery provenance, and core technology research and development projects; For innovative projects such as exchange of germplasm resources, establishment of aquatic germplasm resource banks, and platforms for sharing,  utilizing and trading germplasm resources,, subsidies of up to 2 million yuan will be given.

In terms of aquatic seed industry, Shenzhen will support the city’s seed industry enterprises in building aquatic original seed farms, expansion bases, and seed production bases, providing subsidies of up to 3 million yuan; It will support enterprises in developing and constructing digital fishery projects, providing subsidies of up to 20 million yuan for recognized digital fishery construction projects. In addition, Shenzhen supports the development and application of sustainable utilization of fishery resources and fishery ecological conservation technologies, and encourages the development and application of modern fishery equipment and information technology based on new technologies and materials, providing subsidies of up to 3 million yuan.

Regarding the acceleration of the development of livelihood fisheries, the“Measures” stipulate eight specific measures, including encouraging enterprises to enter the international tuna trading center for trading, strengthening the construction of aquatic product supply bases, supporting the construction of cold chain logistics for aquatic product processing and distribution, constructing a quality and safety assurance system for aquatic products, supporting the green and healthy development of aquaculture, carrying out industrialized recirculating aquaculture, encouraging carrying back aquatic products from the Nansha waters, and supporting the construction of deep water anti-wind and anti-wave cages as well as integrated offshore fishing platforms and breeding factory ships, so as to provide more high-quality aquatic products for the citizens.



Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiated by the United Nations

On January 1, 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including 169 targets, of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force. Countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.