World Trade Organization negotiators failed to agree on rules to ban harmful subsidies to fisheries in time to meet a 2020 deadline. Months of intensive online talks ended on Dec. 14 with dozens of points reportedly remaining unresolved, including some major ones. “While I am disappointed that we will miss the 2020 deadline, I am not discouraged,” Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, who chaired the negotiations, said at an informal remote meeting with senior negotiators from member states, Dec. 14. “All members are determined to bring this negotiation to the finish line.” Wills said the body is finalizing a schedule for resumed negotiations in 2021, with the first meetings in January. Many countries subsidize their fishing industries, giving out grants or tax exemptions that can artificially raise fishers’ profits by increasing their revenue or reducing their costs. These subsidies fund larger, more technologically advanced fleets than would otherwise be economically viable, a substantial body of research agrees. Countries spent an estimated $35 billion on fishing subsidies in 2018, with China, the EU, U.S., South Korea and Japan the biggest spenders. Expert analysis suggests around 63% of the total meets the World Trade Organization (WTO) definition of harmful subsidies, as it increases fishers’ potential to catch more fish, in excess of ecologically sustainable levels. Fish stocks are declining alarmingly, with almost 94% fished to maximum capacity or overfished, according to a 2020 report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Talks aimed at clarifying and improving WTO fisheries rules have plodded…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer